I admit it. I am the original Valentine’s Day Grinch – I think finding gifts for Valentine’s Day is awkward – at best. How can we possibly wrap all our love and emotion into one gift on one day of the year? That’s affordable. I’m not sure it’s possible for a gift to represent the depths of our feelings for our loved ones.
I know what you’re thinking…I’m alone. I’m bitter. I’m lonely. I live with too many cats and could technically be called a hoarder maybe with some sort of diagnosable neurosis. But that really couldn’t be further from the truth (ok, the neurosis part could be debated…)! Valentine’s Day is just stupid. But here’s how to transform it into what it should be!
Valentine’s Day Had a Rocky Beginning
So let’s begin with the unsavory beginnings of Valentine’s Day:
From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. (Frankly – you could probably just stop reading now. The romance is dead for you, am I correct? But if you must, carry on…)
The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right. (source)
It went on from there – but I guess that’s as good a place as any to start.
Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. February has not been the same since.
Today, the holiday is big business…Valentine’s Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year ; this year’s sales are expected to total $18.6 billion. (source)
If neither of those little tidbits pushed you to the “Valentine’s Day is stupid” side – it’s possible that nothing will. But the commercial nature of the holiday is what has always kept me squarely in conflict.
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Gifts for Valentine’s Day That Are Perfect
What I don’t think is awkward is the love that Valentine’s Day professes to celebrate. Spouses, lovers, partners, and family can all be grateful for the love they share with one another throughout the year. There are wonderful ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your family.
And celebrating with experiences instead of gifts is the way to go. It doesn’t feel awkward – it feels genuine. Today, my gift to you is the most precious of all gifts – my time and my attention. This seems in keeping with how precious our loved ones are to us.
Art projects usually top our list – including Valentine’s cards for one another and for the boys’ classmates. We may also give some baking projects a try this year.
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Traditions Are the New Gifts for Valentine’s Day
I’ve decided to share several new traditions with the boys this year and see how we enjoy them. Family Valentine’s traditions help create closeness among family members and can help spread happiness to others.
Our first new tradition will be to make extra Valentine’s cards that we can pass out to people we run into throughout the day! How fun! Can you imagine being the clerk at the store or the mailman who receives a special Valentine? Sharing love and happiness is definitely a worthwhile way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!
Our second new tradition will be to find a nursing home, hospital, soup kitchen, or other charitable organization and bring some pretty homemade Valentine’s cards. I’ve done some searching on the web and found some great cards that look like they will be a lot of fun to make. Since we will be making extras – we will get started soon! Here are some sites with some great card ideas:
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Celebrating Love & Devotion on Valentine’s Day
I think Valentine’s is completely commercial, contrived and not genuine at all. The opposite of all it professes.
Nevertheless, our love for one another is genuine and organic. So celebrate love! Give yourself, your time, and your attention. Be grateful for the loves in your life every single day – not just on February 14. You will all be happier for it. Celebrate love every day of the year! And spread happiness and love as often as you can. If so many are sharing love on February 14, who am I to stand in their way or to not add in the revelry?
But my revelry and celebration will be based on something somewhat less commercial or contrived.
As the Valentine’s Grinch would discover:
It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if [Valentine’s Day], he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if [Valentine’s], perhaps, means a little bit more.”
-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Showing love and sharing love in genuine ways is never awkward. Easy peasy. And if you also think that Valentine’s Day is stupid – you can even join the facebook group by the same name!