Friday, February 13, 2009

valentine's day plans or lack thereof

Some thoughts regarding the upcoming Valentine's Day:

1. I used to REALLY like Valentine's Day. Strangely, I think all the years I really liked Valentine's Day happened while I was single. To me, then, Valentine's Day was about expressing love to everyone, friends and family. Valentine's Day was not about romance but appreciation and gratitude. I took the opportunity to be a reminder to myself to love others. What happened?

2. I guess that happened was that I succumbed to all of the socio-cultural hype. The norms inculcated into me by popular media and, perhaps more disappointingly, my social network and/or friends. When people start asking whether or not you have Valentine's Day plans, you start thinking that you should, and if you don't, there's obviously something wrong with you or your relationship.

3. But I didn't buy into all of the social norms, particularly, the one that says that the entire burden of responsibility falls on the man (in a heterosexual relationship). I also don't think the proper way to celebrate or acknowledge Valentine's Day necessarily includes chocolates, candy, and flowers. Although having a more restricted sense of what the holiday entails would be so much easier.

4. Instead, there is now lots of ambiguity. Nobody is really in charge (unlike birthdays, in which case the non-birthday-haver should take more responsibility for planning). There's no specific script to follow -- buy a gift, buy no gift, go out, stay in. And if there is anything I have discovered about myself (or that has been discovered onto me) in the last few years of living, it's that I deal with uncertainty very poorly.

5. So all in all, my feelings about Valentine's Day are mixed. Even more so because of all the newspaper, magazine, and blog articles about how to celebrate Valentine's Day without breaking the bank (given the economic crisis and all) suggesting that a really great way to celebrate Valentine's Day on a budget is to "Make your partner a home-cooked dinner." Because it'll be really special and all. Maybe it would be more special if I didn't already do that five times a week.

I think I would be much happier back at one.