As we near the day set aside for lovers, I can’t help but ponder love, romance and how we celebrate Valentine’s Day. For many of us, myself included, Valentine’s Day is just a commercial holiday. I celebrate it more for my children and grandchildren than I do with my husband. Why? For one there seems to be a lot of pressure to one-up each other on Valentine’s. It’s not about romance as much as it’s about competition. At least that’s how it seems to me. In this day and age of social media and television, even movie and romance books it seems to be more about the grand gesture than what the other person wants.
Is the big spectacular gesture or gift what romance is really about? I’m not saying my husband hasn’t done BIG. I got a van for Christmas the year before my first writer’s conference. He wanted me to have something safe to drive when I went to Pittsburg, but I also needed a new vehicle. So maybe this is where romance meets practical? But is this what romance has come to? How big does the gesture have to be in order to prove their love? Must they risk death and dismemberment?
We can talk about the historical significance of Valentine’s Day, but I’m more interested in how we perceive the holiday today than what it was meant to celebrate. You know the monk that was killed for defying a king and marrying soldiers in secret during wartime. Yeah, it was considered treason to want to marry and procreate, but it was against the church to do that stuff without marrying, so the guys (and gals) were-uh-hard up to get married. But that was then. What does Valentine’s mean now? When I talk to my friends, most are like me, Valentine’s is one of those holidays they might do something for but usually not. We give cards, go out to eat or maybe give a box of candy to our loved ones. The younger generation seem to fall into a few categories: 1) occasional card or small gifts, 2) over the top gifts and going out to dinner and/or dramatic gestures 3) feel it’s a cop-out for those who are uninspired to be romantic the other 364 days of the year.
So, what is romance? What would make you swoon? Is it the over-the-top gesture or a simple act of kindness? One of my writer friends mentioned her husband showing up at her office with a rose one Valentine’s, something he never did. It had been a horrific day. He’d done it not just because it was a holiday, but because she needed the boost. To me, that thoughtful gesture is more important than any big dramatic spectacle. The first time my husband sent me a meme with ‘you’re the only one for me’ in it, I cried. For the younger generation who grew up with texting and stuff, this means nothing, but for us, it was a milestone. He had to make the effort. I think that’s the thing that makes romance romantic, the effort, the thought, the doing something because you know it will please the other person. If your significant other loves model trains and you take them to a model train show, or give them a piece they’ve been looking for, it shows you listened and put thought into the gift. The gift or gesture doesn’t have to be big or expensive if it is something important to the other person.
Romance, like any other part of a relationship takes time and effort. You cannot buy it on eBay. It doesn’t come in a box. There’s not even a book on it, though as a romance writer, I could suggest a few that might help. No, what I think is romantic and what someone else thinks, depends on our personality, where we are in our stage of life and what we need from our person. Raising six sons there was never a lot of money or time, but my husband always made sure to remind me of how important I am to him. Sometimes it was just giving me time alone with my computer or a book after he’d worked all day. Other times, it was a little gift he’d picked up just because he thought of me: from the yellow rose with the Tasmanian Devil that used to sit by my computer to a coveted iced coffee drink which were hard to find and out of our budget.
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What do think is romantic? I’d love to hear a romantic story. Share you romantic memories.
Don’t forget to join me at the Valentine Popup at The Venue Main Street Aurora!