I think saying that St. Valentine has cursed me is a little dramatic (which I have been accused of being on some occasions), but I definitely have a non-romantic history with Valentine’s Day.
My maiden name is Valentine, which I now use as my middle name, so I feel I have some ownership when it comes to Valentine’s Day. When I was little, Valentine’s Day was simple, fun, and full of candy and gifts, which are my love languages. I also got a lot of attention on Valentine’s Day with people saying “Hey! It’s YOUR SPECIAL DAY!” or “This must be fun to have your OWN holiday!” or “You must have special plans for this SPECIAL DAY!” Which builds expectations that are easily crushed. Cruely.
Because suddenly, in junior high somewhere in between Aqua Netting my hair and putting on Silver City Pink lipstick, I realized that I suddenly had expectations. I’m expecting things to happen like romantic Valentine’s delivered anonymously to my locker, or giant plush teddy bears and a bouquet of red roses or a tap at my window in the middle of the night from a lovesick boy holding up a boom box playing Peter Gabriel. (Coincidentally, now that I have a junior high son of my own, I wish I could go back in time and tell my 12 year-old self there’s NO WAY most 12 year-old boys are thinking up romantic gestures. They are thinking up fart jokes.) And now, instead of clarifying the pronunciation or spelling of my name by saying “You know, ‘Valentine,’ like the holiday!” I find myself saying “You know, ‘Valentine,’ like the massacre.” Oh, teenage angst.
After a few failed Valentine’s Days, where I didn’t get anything from anyone except my mom, Valentine’s Day lost a little of its excitement and people would still say “it’s your special day!” which only made it worse. All my subsequent relationships started right after Valentine’s Day or ended before. It became really funny. Super funny, awkward relationships, none of which ever landed me a heart shaped box of chocolates and obligatory bouquet of red roses on Valentine’s Day, made me the gal I am today.
Here are some of my “rules” of Valentine’s Day :
1. You get one shot. There’s no “lets celebrate it on another day” kinda thing you can get away with birthdays and anniversaries. You celebrate it on February 14th, or you don’t.
2. Valentine’s Day is really for the children. All expectations, frivolity, and planning should be light and fun. If you try to make it too romantic, you will be accused of, even subtly, caving into the desires of candy makers, greeting card companies and the Illuminati, and not being spontaneously romantic (Don’t underestimate the power of being romantic on a random Tuesday.)
3. Everyone wants to be remembered on Valentine’s Day. Even if she says she doesn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it would still be nice to get a box of nice chocolates. I’m just saying she’d eat them. (Or buy them for themselves. . . Hailey Smith, I'm looking at you.)
4. Decide ahead of time what your expectations are. My friend Kacy doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day romantically, but she and her husband really go all out for their anniversary. I respect that.
Flash forward to 1995, and I found myself in a serious relationship with Mr. Christopher Clark. Valentine’s Day 1995 came and with it came a romantic Valentine’s Day including a funny song he and his best friend Ben wrote and sang on a tape (remember cassette tapes?), roses, and a romantic dinner. And it ended with a flat tire and a rescue from a friend who needed us to talk with him for 3 hours about how depressed he was. Oh, sweet Valentine’s.
Topher proposed a week later, stating that it would have been too obvious to propose to Lisa Valentine on Valentine’s Day, and I appreciated it. After all, I didn’t want to ruin my awesome nonromantic Valentine’s curse tradition.
Now, because of Topher’s career, he’s been out of town every Valentine’s Day, at a regional acting competition every year we’ve been married (except that year in England) which is 16 years.
Except this year.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Lisa Valentine Clark is raising five little Valentine-Clarks and that's it. Don't ask her what her hobbies are, or she'll start crying. She lives by her motto: "lowering the bar and being awesome." Her husband has been out of town directing for a month and a half now, so she hopes to get some dark chocolate in all forms (frozen, bar, truffle, liquid) and a really long nap for Valentine's Day. She also blogs at Almost Famous.