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February 14, 2019

Be Still My Heart, You Had Me at Stuffing.

It started with a joke, a funny social media post. “We should get rid of Valentine’s Day and replace it with a second Thanksgiving.” By Single Swag.

Why not, I asked myself.

My disdain for Valentine’s Day has developed over the years, but I think it started while I was working at my first full-time job at a department store in the Fine Jewelry department. There, I had a front-row seat to the pain, and the resentment men had, being forced to buy gifts for their girlfriends, wives, and lovers especially right after Christmas. I empathized with the guys, they had a good reason to hate the holiday because it is, indeed a big scam. What they intuitively felt, I knew for a fact, they were buying the crap stock that didn’t sell for Christmas. Yesterday’s failure is today’s opportunity, God bless the Marketers.

Somewhere along the line, I generally started really hating the idea of retailers jacking up prices on certain commodities depending on the upcoming celebration. A rose is a rose unless it is Valentine’s Day and then it becomes a required, pricy obligation. Chocolate is chocolate unless it is wrapped in red or pink then it is a little nugget worth as much as gold. Now take this greed and mix it with human feelings and you get very high expectations.

Do we really need these high expectations? They cause so much unnecessary friction between couples. It only one day, it isn’t any different than another day of the year. What is wrong with telling and showing your love every day? If you have a good relationship you already do this and if you have a bad one, how is being forced to be kind for one day going to make a difference? I just can’t get it out of my head that there are people in relationships that are abusive (mentally, emotionally, and physically) that get a reprieve one day a year in exchange for some jewelry, candy, or flowers.

My feeling on the subject didn’t change when I start dating and then married my husband. I expressed to him my lack of need to celebrate the holiday. As to be expected, he was a little leery of my insistence of not getting me anything. He thought it was a trap, he was told by other guys it was a trap. The men he worked with warned him that he had to get me something or I would be mad and the women he worked with just plain horrified. The first couple of years he got me at least a card, just in case. But soon he understood that I was serious, I didn’t want to celebrate the holiday.

To this day I still protest the day. I wear all black and avoid speaking to anyone in hopes to sidestep the awkward, “Happy Valentine’s Day” exchanging ritual. (But I have also been known to avoid face to face contact with people on any given day, doesn’t have to be February 14th.) I try to watch scary or action movie at night, nothing with gooey emotions, and basically, hunker down and wait for the 24 hours of hell to pass.

But this year is different because now I have a different holiday to celebrate, second Thanksgiving. As soon as my friend posted the quote, I shared it on my wall and started to plan. I love Thanksgiving food, and I love giving thanks, so this idea was right in my wheelhouse. I was going to be alone for the day, and I could create a meal and activities that made me happy and gave me space to reflect on the bounty that is in my life now. I know, it so too dramatic but it is what I plan to do.

In closing, whether you are celebrating the day with traditional fanfare or with stuffing and turkey, take time to appreciate the things that don’t cost money and enjoy them every day.

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Chris Hanlon  |  Contribution: 2,345