Posted by: joha5 | February 16, 2011

Crappy Valentines Day!: Why Valentines Day Doesn’t Matter…That Much

I don’t really care for Valentine’s Day…but then again I don’t not care for it either.  However, the fact remains that it seems to be an extremely divisive day.  Single, partnered, gay, straight, or whatever…something about February 14th elicits this extremely visceral reaction from anybody you ask.   

When I was younger Valentine’s Day was definitely less about love and affection and more about feeling a sense of validation that you were liked.  I was well-liked in school but nobody ever had a crush on me so I never got those secret Valentine’s Day cards informing me that somebody had a crush on me.  I never got that extra candy in the paper bag that was attached to my desk.  What I did get were the generic cards that you could buy from CVS – 40 for two bucks or something – with cartoon characters that hadn’t been cool in 30 years (think Yogi Bear, the Jetsons, or the Flinstones).  I don’t remember exactly but I am pretty sure that if you were going to give a Valentine to somebody then you had to give one to everybody in your class.  As a result I remember getting really resentful Valentines from guys in my class like “Happy Valentines Day or whatever, Jon”.  Really they should have just written “I’m only doing this because I have to.”

If you can look me in the eyes and tell me that you have never seen one of these then I will call you a liar.

You would think this would have scarred me in some way but, strangely, it didn’t.  I got excited to give a Valentine and some candy to everybody in my class.  For me, it was genuinely fun.  I didn’t care if I got some begrudging cards from guys in my class who were mandated to give me one.  I mean, it would have been nice for them to put in a little bit more effort but whatever…Valentines Day was more for me and for doing something nice for the people who I shared my days with. 

As I got older, the game changed a little bit.  We used to have a flower sale at my high school where for a dollar or two you would write a note and on Valentines Day the organizers would put all of the notes that people sent you in your mailbox.  Once you got those notes you would go to the front of the school, show them how many notes you got and then you would redeem one flower for each note.  The intended purpose was to raise money for some charity but its real purpose was just to make the vast majority of the high school feel sad and lonely.  For a school that promoted equity throughout the student body there was absolutely nothing equitable about the Valentines Day flower event.  There was always a handful of students who would receive an insane amount of flowers – 20, 30, 40 – and they would parade around school all day acting as if it was a huge burden for them to carry all of these flowers as they marched to and from class when really the only burden involved was the one they were putting on the rest of the student body who had to witness this spectacle.  Even if you received a couple of flowers – or even a handful – seeing these people still made you feel like you were worthless because the school had inadvertently discovered a way to measure popularity (at least to high school students) and they had created a number of despots with a Machiavellian approach to Valentines Day flowers.  It was absolutely absurd.

I was one of those people who got one – or maybe two – flowers each year.  Sure, I felt a tinge of jealousy when I saw these people who looked like flower Sherpas but it didn’t take me long to realize how silly the whole thing was.  Granted, I probably came to this conclusion because of my jealousy and not in spite of it.  Whatever.  Who cares.

Flower Sherpas: I'm not (that) jealous.

Eventually all of these silly escapades stopped and along with that went any significance that the day once held.  It wasn’t that the day was void of meaning it was just that I stopped caring so much about it.  I stopped using it as a benchmark for my (lack of ) popularity and my love life.  It stopped serving as a reminder that I was single or that I was with somebody.  It just kind of became this day that was nice to have but that lost all intrinsic meaning…that is, if it ever had one in the first place.  That’s why this past Monday it was so interesting to watch people take Valentines Day so seriously in either a good or a bad way.  I can’t understand why people would ever be sad on Valentines Day and conversely I can’t understand how people could be elated by Valentines Day either.  After all, it’s just a day. 

Whether you think Valentines Day is a day to renew your commitment to your partner or whether you think it is over-commercialized and gaudy, it is just a day where it is nice to reflect for a few fleeting moments on those that you have in your life and those that you love.  Sure, I got a couple of cards and a few chocolates but those on their own are just that: cards and chocolates.  What made Valentines Day good for me this year and every year preceding this one is doing something nice for those people in my life that I love dearly.  And even if you don’t send cards or chocolates or flowers (I typically don’t), Valentines Day serves its purpose to me by just making us think about just how lucky we are to have all of the people in lives that we do…and that is nothing to be sad about.



  1. I loved this post. I agree with your viewpoint. I mean, Valentine’s Day is just a day.

    When I was in high school, I loved the day; however, now, I have to say that I side a little more with the idea that it’s a little TOO over-commercialized and gaudy…it bothers me when women seem to expect dozens of roses and diamond earrings just because retailers/marketers encourage that school of thought.

    I liked Valentine’s Day better when I was a kid and we gave out those Flintstones/Jetsons/Scooby-Doo cards, cinnamon hearts, and chocolates to each other. It was just a good excuse to have a class party… 🙂

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I actually loved Valentines Day growing up even if I never was the most popular kid or didn’t get any secret love letters or anything. I still send a card and buy flowers for a handful of people but it is nothing like it used to be. I remember being in school and getting ‘high’ off of chocolate and cupcakes and just generally feeling like life was amazing. Even the process of writing the valentines and giving them out was amazingly fun for me. Alas, now I am too old and adults take themselves too seriously to make Valentines Day fun like it used to be!

      • You are a much better friend than me! This year I just sent out a Valentine’s Day text to my closest friend. That’s it. lol.

        I need to remedy that. Next year, I will try to have a cupcake/chocolate/candy party at work…I think adults need to stop taking ourselves so seriously all the time and experience the sugar-rush again. 😉

  2. If you have one then I will be joining you. Just the idea of being on a sugar rush again and running around acting like I’m 10 years old again for the day sounds kind of amazing. I work at a school and I feel like we were a lot more spirited when I was younger. But then again, I probably just remember it differently than it actually was.

    • Ok. Deal. Next year, you can come all the way to Toronto just for some cupcakes and the chance to relive your youth. 🙂

      • Done and done! I have never been to Toronto but would LOVE to go!

  3. Ugh. Those f-ing flowers. I can’t believe they let us do that! I don’t think I ever got a damn flower. I love valentine’s day (for the candy’s sake, mostly) but I was totally scarred by the carnation thing. This is the alex you went to high school with, btw.

    • Do you remember how awful that carnation thing was?!?! I am so glad somebody else remembers as well. I always felt like I had to get a number of my friends a flower but when Valentines Day came it just turns out that nobody ever extended the same courtesy to me. I remember leaving school on those days feeling like complete and utter poo no matter how many flowers I got (1? 2?). I won’t mention any names but do you remember how some people used to get 1,000 flowers?! Unaccepatble.

  4. You must come to Toronto sometime…it’s an amazing city! Maybe I’m just a little biased… 😉

  5. you’re good.

  6. yeah, nice job!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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