by Toni L.P. Kelner
It's not that I dislike Valentine's Day. I enjoy a chocolate Reece's peanut butter heart as much as anybody, and flowers are always welcome, a why wouldn't I like a romantic dinner alone with my honey? It's just that Valentine's Day comes with so much baggage.
For weeks we've been bombarded with ads for buying ludicrously expensive gives, commercials that assure us that only the gift of diamonds will show how much we really care, and displays of heart-bedecked jockey shorts. Rather than a celebration of love and romance, the holiday has become a daunting test of devotion.
This year is a double challenge at the Kelner household. First off is the fact that my own Valentine--my husband Steve--is out of town for the holiday. So I might not be feeling as hearts-n-roses about the festivities as I might.
Second, it's my daughter's first Valentine's Day with a boyfriend. So she's not sure what the rules are, and I'm not sure what to tell her. My own pre-Steve Valentine's Days weren't always major successes.
One year I searched and searched for just the right gift for my then-boyfriend, and I settled on an adorable wooden dragon with a red-painted heart. But the night I was to present it to him, he arranged a game of Dungeons and Dragons with the gang, and his only observance of the day was to hand me a card with an off-color pun before the game. I kept the dragon for myself and broke up with the boyfriend a week later.
So I wasn't sure exactly what to advise my daughter to do for her boyfriend. I did advise not going overboard on cost--that just puts a burden on everybody--so she made a card, and is giving a small gift and home-made cookies. Together they planned dinner at a favorite restaurant and the movie Warm Bodies, which may be the world's first zombie romance. (Okay, maybe Sean of the Dead has that title.) I think they've got a handle on it.
Still, there are times I look back on those days when Valentine's Day meant decorating a tissue box with doilies and construction paper hearts and giving everybody in class a card from a box of 24 assorted Valentines. The only tough parts were deciding which person to give the best friend card and whether or not to tape heart-shaped lollipops to the envelopes.
I'm particularly fond of the years when my daughters were in pre-school. Since it was a Jewish pre-school, Saint Valentine's Day wasn't celebrated, for obvious reasons. Instead they celebrated Friendship Day. Forget the boyfriend/girlfriend burdens--all the kids were celebrating friendship.
I like that a lot. Even on those years where romance wasn't in the picture, I've always had wonderful friends. So this year, I'd like to offer a toast to my friends the Femmes and all our wonderful readers.
Happy Friendship Day!
PS - In case you're worried about romance for me and my Valentine, never fear--when Steve returns, we will designate a night as Valentine's Day Observed, and take advantage of half-price bags of conversation hearts.