Valentine’s Day is my birthday. Some people think that’s sweet. This is especially true of older people, who derive great pleasure from making comments about how I am my parents’ Valentine, or some nonsense about how that means my boyfriend has fewer dates to remember (wow, so sorry one more date would’ve been such a tremendous burden) – but I think it’s pretty dumb.
Having your birthday coincide with a major holiday is inherently a little frustrating, after all.
As a kid (and also now, who am I kidding), I couldn’t help but feel put-out when Valentine’s arrived and everyone around me was more preoccupied with romance than my actual birthday. And ok, maybe that sounds a little self-centered, but I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with needing affirmation from the people around you during the yearly celebration of your existence. Not that I would ever want or expect people not to celebrate Valentine’s Day just because it’s my birthday, obviously; I just mean that, as far as birthdays go, mine is a pretty easy birthday for people to forget.
Over time, my birthday became more annoying than anything, something to endure and something for which I have learned not to raise my hopes.
It has also furnished my room with many stuffed animals (so. many. stuffed. animals.) over the course of the years. Chocolates, flowers, and stuffed animals were hugely dominant among my presents – to the point that I actually had to sit my dad down and tell him I had gotten too old for anymore of those furry little bastards.
Sorry, bros. Our time together is over.
Fuzzy animals aside, Valentine’s Day offered a yearly reminder that I was single. Obviously, that didn’t matter very much when I was younger, but as I got older I couldn’t help but feel glum that I didn’t have a partner with whom to celebrate the occasion. When you think about it, it’s practically impossible to escape Valentine’s Day. I mean, it’s a monstrosity of an institution.
This time of year, commercials are flooded with images of flowers, jewelry, etc. with accompanying voiceovers by posh British women (to make the rings seem more refined? Unclear, but I swear this is a trend). Your favorite TV shows all have a Valentine’s Day special, which either revolves around the struggles of being single or the emergence of tensions between your favorite TV couples. The latter plot is usually written for the sole purpose of letting them make-up at the end of the episode, when they realize the True Meaning of Valentine’s Day (hint: it’s consumerism).
Sorry, couldn’t resist.
I know many people love Valentine’s Day independently of Hallmark’s machinations, but let’s not deny the role of companies in sustaining this holiday. It’s not a coincidence that we all have a standardized list of Valentine’s gifts in our minds. And Valentine’s Day isn’t even a holiday reserved for adults! From pre-school onwards, it has infiltrated the hearts and minds of all. Who doesn’t remember handing out cards and candy to everyone in their class?
It’s not like it ended when we were little, either: even in college, we’re still doling out candy-grams and other treats like no one’s business. Not that I’m complaining about any of these things, because who doesn’t support eating a ton and displays of affection, but you have to admit that Valentine’s Day is largely geared towards getting people to buy, buy, buy.
Let’s not let capitalism ruin this for us, though. There are certainly ways to spend the holiday without emptying your wallet and, regardless, I think that a day devoted to being extra sweet to your partner is lovely. Yeah, I know that sounds gooey – but what can I say, my birthday has grown on me.
Certainly, Valentine’s Day can be obnoxious, and sometimes disheartening, but it can also be tremendously fun. Who doesn’t love an excuse to eat really good food, indulge yourself with extra desserts (so I really want an excuse to eat a pint of ice cream, sue me), and let your romantic side take the reins? Take it from me, a true child of Saint Valentine.
Do not be fooled: the fun is not reserved exclusively for couples. If Valentine’s Day is about recognizing the people you love, why not bestow your affections upon your friends and loved ones? After all, nothing about being single prohibits you from taking part, and the holiday has a lot to offer: themed parties, desserts on deserts on desserts, discounted candy the day after, and the perfect excuse to treat yo self.
So go out there and show Hallmark who really owns Valentine’s Day, Brunonia.
You heard Ms. Meagle.