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Valentine’s Day. We’re doing it wrong.

Heart of Stone

My younger son went to the semi-formal with friends a few weeks ago. They dressed up, no dates, and had a great time dancing their asses off. There’s video. I’m not sharing.

My older son, who has a girlfriend, opted not to go. Their attitude was “been there, done that, thank you, next.” Since he is a senior, I’m guessing they’ll be more interested in prom when the time comes. I like that they made their own choices and that didn’t feel pressure to go or not to go.

I have always really hated Valentine’s Day because there is so much pressure and I see people all over beat themselves up for being alone from middle school onward. There was always so much drama over whether we would get a carnation from the right boy, even we even got on at all, and heaven help the ones who got one from the wrong boy.

As an adult, when I worked in the city, I used to see all these guys on their lunch breaks scrambling in CVS for a last minute card or a tacky pink stuffed animal. Why bother?

And then there are the folks spending a first Valentine’s Day alone after a break up. How hard that must be, and how it must seem that everyone else in the world is partnered up, even though that’s far from the truth. Torture by Hallmark holiday. So not fair.

For those of us who do have a partner, even going out to dinner with everyone else in the world creates unwanted pressure. If things aren’t perfect the occasion seems like an awful portent.

I don’t think I’ve ever really celebrated Valentine’s day. I’ve never been a really romantic person, and to start now would just make both of us laugh.

I don’t really regret my decision, but I wish now that I was able to make it fun for my kids when they were little like I’m able do with Christmas. I slogged it out year after year getting the kids to write out paper valentines for each of their classmates. They resented it, I resented it. They would come home with the little cartoonish cards or stickers from their classmates in a bag or a box and never look at them again. One year I even created handmade cards for 60 kids, but I never did anything for my boys at home. I should have. Whoever created “Galentine’s Day” and “Palentine’s Day” had the right idea (this is the first year I’ve heard of either), but they should all be on the same day.

Someone at this high school had the right idea. It’s fun, it’s inclusive and a little mysterious. More of this kind of thing, please.

My generation had to have a date to go to the Prom and there was so much drama and heartbreak and pressure around it. I’m so glad my kids are able to go with friends and just have fun. That’s the way Valentine’s Day should be.

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