I am officially going public with my feelings. I hate Valentines Day. I view it as the result of an organized and commercialized cabal between greeting card companies, florists, jewelers and chocolatiers to force men into publicly proclaiming their affection for their wives and girlfriends with a very clearly implied "or else." Not surprisingly, a woman, Esther Howland, is credited with sending the first Valentine's card in the United States.
There need not even be the slightest emotion attached, nor thought behind the gift. We are told, in ads on radio and television, how a simple phone call and valid credit card is all it takes to send flowers or candy to your "special someone" and it is guaranteed to arrive in time for Valentines Day. Presumably, the recipient can feel emotionally "validated" by getting a gift delivered in full view of their co-workers.
I find it somewhat amusing that just one week after one of the best days of the year for most men (although not me), Super Bowl Sunday, comes one of the most dreaded -- Valentines Day. For the record, I am not a misogynist. I am happily married and a confirmed metro-sexual. I have chosen and surprised my wife with every purse and nearly every piece of jewelry she's received during our 27 years of marriage. My beef with Valentines Day is not the gifts themselves, but the high expectation and complete lack of spontaneity involved in this manufactured "holiday."
Before you start writing your hate mail, I love my wife, Keri, and I enjoy buying gifts for her. I simply choose to surprise her, rather than have them so blatantly scheduled on my behalf. I suggest that every day can be Valentine's Day. By injecting spontaneity and romance into the process, it is more memorable and more meaningful. I adore my wife. I don't just tell her that every day (which I do, by the way), I also try to show her how I feel though my actions. They are little acts of thoughtfulness and kindness -- bringing a cup of freshly brewed coffee to her in bed, embracing her with a hug and a kiss while she is intently working on a needlepoint, and yes, even occasionally surprising her with a hand selected bouquet of flowers for no reason at all! I say "I love you" to my bride and I do.
So here I sit, wondering what am I supposed to do on Feb. 14? Do I stick to my principles and ignore the holiday completely and risk hurting my wife's feelings? Should I preemptively "surprise" her with a gift, days before the official holiday -- satisfying my desire to remain "my own man" and make her feel like she is simply getting her Valentines Day gift early? Why has love become so monetized in the first place? Why is saying, "I love you" somehow less valuable than sending a dozen roses that will be dead within a week? Why is there so much damn pressure!
Maybe I should just ask Keri a simple question, "Will you be my Valentine?"
I hope she says yes.