Ah, Valentine's Day. I have mixed emotions about this holiday. On one hand, it is clearly a manufactured holiday, even if it might have some historical context. In our mass-produced modern times, such a holiday is often just another excuse for vacuous consumerism (and the high-interest credit card debt to go with it). On the other hand, Valentine’s Day gives an opportunity for busy lovers and partners to stop and – at least for one day – make a point of appreciating their other half. But wait, you may say, people should be appreciative of each other every day. Alas, many folks are not that forthcoming with their emotions – Valentine’s Day, through the mainstream acceptance of goopy lovenothings as well as the widespread pressure to just do something, forces many people out of their shells and into the nearest store to procure small delights that will somehow, in some, less verbal way, communicate their undying devotion. So there it is. Buying some thing is often much easier than communicating the often complex feelings of love and commitment – especially in words. Especially face to face. How does one average person even come close to being as creatively romantic as the professionally written scripts everyone encounters on the glowing box (aka night time TV)??? Such pressure. I really can’t blame them. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
But, how does one shy lover show his most intimate feelings without being forced to cave in to the mass-produced, pollution-releasing, lame “same-old”, most likely imported and made in a sweatshop, Valentine’s Day pressure?
I am glad you asked. Here are some ideas:
1. Make some sh*t with your two little hands: One of my most favorite V-day gifts came when my boyfriend, frustrated as all hell about the general pressure to buy something for a random day in February said, “I would rather give you something I made myself every day for a year, than be forced to buy you something for Valentine’s Day.” So, he proceeded to make me one little heart every day for . . . well, okay, it only lasted a week, but it was awesome. One heart was a little paper sculpture. One heart was made from bulletin board push pins stuck into cardboard. One little heart was ripped carefully out of colored paper. And so on. Who cares if its lopsided or doesn't really resemble what you wanted it to - your lover will appreciate the effort. And you know, if they don't, well, they are probably a superficial awful person anyway, so this might be a good time to run away as fast as you can . . . I kid, I kid - we are all different - scroll forward for more ideas.
2. Offer favors (of all kinds): Be they sexual, sensual, of the mop and vacuum kind or the ever pleasurable (at least for most people) rub your feet kind, little favors go a long way to extend one day in February into at least a few weeks. Just make sure they are reflective of your knowledge of the person (i.e., don't go near their feet if they hate that). For instance, (and this is just a totally random example, I swear) your partner doesn’t like to walk the dogs late at night by themselves, offer to walk a few nights a week together. You can handwrite your favors in coupon form, on random pieces of paper thrown into a jar or even as a list that can be checked off on the refrigerator.
If you really want to spend some money:
3. Buy an experience. Whether it’s a day learning how to rock-climb or salsa dance or cook, or a night at the theater, pick something you will enjoy doing together. You can pick something new or something you haven't done in awhile. [For all you parents out there, how about surprising your partner with a baby-sitter (not in the Jude Law sort of way!!) – hire a nanny and whisk your lovey away from the kids. Check out sittercity.com to find someone in your area.]
Check out these local options for an experience worth the money you will spend:
4. Shop Local. Enough said.
But wait, you say in a panic. What if Valentine’s Day is when I usually give my most beloved something sparkly – sapphires like the shimmering blue depth of her eyes or rubies as red as the soft skin of his kissable lips . . . Being a recovering jewelry designer myself, I am especially sensitive to this dilemma. But fear not, although precious metals and gemstone mining are two very destructive industries, you can still shower your beauty with gemstones a-plenty. Just buy vintage! (You were waiting for me to say that, weren’t you?) There are so many places to get one-of-kind, affordable treasures. As always, I go to Ebay. (Hint: Always buy from a source that offers a money back guarantee and has a positive rating.)I'll highlight some vintage sparklies in my next post, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, check out the Washington Post's ideas on showing your lover AND the planet some love on Valentine's Day.