Monday, February 13, 2006

Every Kiss Begins With...

O.k. Please tell me I'm not the only person who's fed up beyond belief with the rash of jewelry store commercials right now. I was watching t.v. last night for maybe an hour and must have seen - no exaggeration - maybe 15 commercials. Maybe I'm just bitter about Valentines Day in general - as it's never been one of my favorite holidays. Why? Because it's basically become a mass-produced, overly commercialized holiday that is all about fulfilling unattainable expectations and little, or sadly nothing to do with demonstrating how you actually care about someone.

It seems that people get all verklempt around this time of year wringing their hands about the holiday desperately trying to find the "perfect" gift. A veritable flood of magazines {incidentally I don't read many "women's magazines" because their constant drone of "Be A New Woman, here are 15,702 ways to make him want you!" articles are a little offputting. Following their logic the only way that I can succeed as a woman is by being some guy's great lay? Um, no thank you. I'm not sure why or when Cosmo et al went from being an "empowering" magazine to "Fucking for Dummies *Now with Copious Advertisements Showing Emaciated Women That Are Beautiful Because We Said So!*" but I digress...}, t.v. shows and radio ads are stressing how important it is to give the "perfect" gift to your "special someone" for Valentines Day. And why is it that this day is so important? Shouldn't the way you treat each other the other 364 days a year be just as important?

And in doing so, they intone that if you (god forbid) don't have someone special to spend your day with you're a loser. [And Yes, I have been dumped on Valentines Day. Perhaps there is the source of my true bitterness toward it?] And if you don't buy diamonds, or chocolate, or lingerie, or flowers - well, you don't really care enough about the person you're with.

Maybe I'm the one who just doesn't "get it" - but thinking back to the most romantic things I've ever gotten in my life, none of them was flowers, candy or jewelry. About five years ago, a bunch of friends (a group of probably 20 males and females together) and I were sitting around in a bar after classes talking about the most romantic thing that someone could do for you. Not one of us listed jewelry, roses, candy, etc. Instead it was a homemade card, poetry, just listening, etc. I was single at the time, and I said I had always fantasized about someone throwing up little pebbles to my window - so I would open the window and have them tell me they loved me. Perhaps a little too Romeo and Juliet - but whatever.

A few weeks later, tied to my door (I lived on the 16th floor of a high rise) with a ribbon was a plastic sack of tiny pebbles. There was no note, no indication of who sent it. Obviously, I have no way to know if it was just random occurrence, or if it was someone making reference to what I had said. But I kept those pebbles in a glass vase on my nightstand for a very long time as a reminder that it is the small things in life that matter most.

I probably wear the diamond earrings that Michael bought me as a surprise a few years ago 6 out of 7 days a week. But the most romantic thing he did for me was mowing the yard. Seriously. We'd been married about 2 years, and I was in the kitchen washing dishes, and he was in the back yard mowing. He came in, hot and sweaty and yelling that there was something I had to come see. When I went out there, he had mowed I (heart) You in the grass. Now, you have to understand, Michael is not a mushy person. He's not the type to write gushy poetry or sing love songs, but more than anything else he's ever done - that touched me.

So anyway, I'm curious - what are your thoughts on Valentines' Day? How do you celebrate it, if you do? What's the most romantic thing someone could give you (or has, if you want to give us the details)?

Be as chatty as you want in the comments.

And as to the last post, thank you for your kind thoughts. I didn't post that to have you shower me with praise, though... as shameful as it is to admit - far too often I look the other way when someone is in need. Too often I pretend that they aren't there, that I don't see them. Bobby touched me in a way that I didn't think possible, and I haven't stopped thinking about him. For the last week, I've been circling the neighborhood around the restaurant- trying to find him. When it snowed Saturday I cried, worried about him in the cold. I searched for him for close to 40 city blocks. But what I realized in doing so, is that it's not just him that needs help - that needs to be treated with respect and love. It's the woman carrying two kids and pushing another in a stroller. It's the 10 year old kid wearing clothes that don't fit. It's the attorney in the next office, the teller at the bank, the cranky neighbor who *still* has their christmas lights on when I get home at night. It's all of us.


At 2:48 PM, Blogger Nico said...

I have always despised Valentine's day - single or not. I hate that it seems to mean to so many people that it's only one day of the year that you have to think of the person you love. And because it is the day when you're supposed to, I think it makes any gesture practically meaningless. I would so much rather get flowers on a random day, because someone just thought of me, than because it was Valentine's day, so I was supposed to get them.

And I completely agree that the most romantic gestures have nothing to do with flowers or candy... or even cards. The most romatic thing M ever did was to write me a note saying "I love you" on a piece of 8x11 blank paper, and tape it to my computer screen. I flipped it up out of the way after I read it, coz I didn't want to throw it away. Every now and again he flips it back down again. Just because. And that makes me mushy inside every time. Screw spending $100 on flowers!

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Dooneybug said...

Ok, the grass mowed heart? Now THAT is one of the most romantic things I've heard in a while. I like your take on keeping it simple and showing your love for someone in a not so materialistic way.

A boy in middle school once gave me a handmade valentine. It was origami folded into a heart, crayon colored with his little message. Those are the best kind of gifts, the ones handmade with just you in mind.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Cricket said...

Well, as one who received a "3 stone diamond necklace" for Xmas, all I can say is that such a gift merely proves someone watches TV. I even gave back the "3 stone diamond necklace," b/c it screamed on robotic commercialism.

Guess you could say I hate Xmas as much or more than Valentine's Day.

I know I'm getting flowers tomorrow. I have ranted about not ever having gotten flowers from him (besides those carnations from the de-lux gas station) and I have requested flowers on Sept 25 - a nothing date to me, oh, so out-of-the-blue. This desire for sponteneity is being translated into Valentine's Day. That bothers me, and forgive if I seem ungrateful, but in a lot of ways I am.

I'd kill for someone to cut the grass.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger julia said...

I don't like Valentine's Day either. There's too much pressure and it inevitably winds up being a let down. Same thing holds true for New Year's Eve.

My husband is not very romantic at all. He's the chocolate and flowers kind of guy, although this year, I told him not to get me flowers, that a card would be fine. I've tried to tell him that silly little things are so much more special than the "I have to do this because Hallmark says so," but so far, he doesn't seem to get it.

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Molly said...

I just wanted to mention how much I HATE the "Every Kiss Begins With Kay" slogan. Once I turned to Hal after that commercial came on and said, "Evidently, we've never kissed."

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Jenn said...

The grass thing is damn sweet :)

I don't have strong feelings on Valentine's Day, though I get upset if it isn't recognized at ALL (like my husband did for our first three). I'm happy with a card. Candy or flowers is nice too.

I think the most romantic thing anyone did, though it wasn't intended to be romantic, and it wasn't taken as romantic, was in high school. I was having a rough day and one of my best friends (to this day), a guy, went around the school while we were waiting for the bus and picked a bunch of flowers. Just wild flowers and dandelions and such and gave them to me to cheer me up. He's just the sweetest guy on earth and I was so happy to go to his wedding this summer.

One of the sweetest things my husband did was the other week. I had been feeling sad about our lost babies and he came home with four white roses, one for each of the lost babies and one for each of the ones we have now.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Mrs. T said...

Go Michael! That is super sweet! You got a keeper!

Valentine's is definitely another "Hallmark Holiday". I agree that I'm not so into it and that I would like at least a card. My hubby got me a new flower pot for my tree for V-day this year (I already have it) and I was content with that. I have told him not to even bother with flowers. If he really wanted to buy flowers, he could wait til spring and buy me something I can plant in the ground and enjoy more than a couple of days. I like the stuff that keeps giving IF a gift was purchased for me. Again a card is perfectly fine, too. I got hubby some lingerie for me to wear on V-day, red of course. But again, it's a "keep on giving" type of gift. ha ha ha

I do expect presents at Christmas and my birthday though. Call me selfish. :D

At 4:35 PM, Anonymous donna said...

I feel the exact same way about VD (as I like to call it). When my husband and I were first dating, as VD approached, I sat him down and said, "I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. Please don't do anything. I know your male instinct is yelling 'This is a trap!' but I assure you, I am serious."

Every year, I am asked by some female or other what we are doing for VD, and I always say, "Nothing, we don't celebrate it." And I get these pitying looks, like I am married to the biggest clod in the world.

The most romantic thing my hubby ever did for me? Snowy days when we lived in New England, he'd come to my work parking lot right before I got off and clear off my car for me and scrape the windows, so all I had to do was get in and drive off, as everyone else was digging out. He did it two or three times that winter, too. That is romance, in my book.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Sunny Jenny said...

I don't care either way. Valentine's Day gives me an excuse to spend time with my husband. We are so busy it reminds us to take time to cherish one another. But I do agree that it's the little things that count: bringing me breakfast in bead - heart shaped french toast, cleaning off my car that is buried under 16" of snow, getting out of bed on Saturday mornings to make me a cup of tea, running to the store at 10 p.m. cause I am craving pumpkin pie, bringing me flowers because I have acute bronchitis, and kissing me goodbye every morning when he leaves for work. Those are the memories I cherish.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger chris said...

It's a crock. Although I do enjoy the chocolate my husband gives me; and the flowers. But really, it seems like another excuse to get people to buy things they don't need.

Sorry. Getting a bit cranky in my old age.

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Lori said...

I'm kind of ambivalent about Valentine's day. I do like there to be some recognition but more along the lines of doing something together.

At 3:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, I just happened to be reading this on ValiumTimes Day, and I needed to share. Poetry, art, silly little pages printed out from the computer, breakfast, home made dinner. Any or all of these little things make the day, and every day special. Things that come from the heart, not the store. Granted diamonds will get you somewhere, but be careful, they are terribly addicting!

At 5:33 AM, Anonymous wessel said...

Oh, I hate Valentine's Day and I LOVE this post!! And your comment about Cosmo was so right on. "Fucking For Dummies" -- exactly.

We agreed early on that Valentine's Day means nothing to us and that we will not celebrate it. I dislike any holiday designed to force people into feelings and expressions that are not spontaneous.

What do those poor people do who are having a bit of a stressful time in their marriage? It's just so wrong. I'm sure many a couple has had a fight over Valentine's Day and for what? Grrrrrr.

One of the most romantic things my husband ever did when we were first dating is bring some sheet music to my son (who is a pianist) and ask him to play it for him. It was at that moment that my son accepted my husband into our lives. I remember thinking, wow, here is a man who knows that the way to a woman's heart is through her children.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Vacant Uterus said...

I love the grass thing!

When I was in college, my jerk boyfriend at the time broke up with me on Valnetine's Day. I might not have minded as much as I did had it not also been the day of my first appointment at the local Cancer Center. I still thank God that he's not in my life anymore.

One of the most romantic times I ever had with Sarge was when he was home on leave one time. we were on our way to a friend's house for a party and we stopped off at the local mini-mart to pick up some chips and soda. I put the car in park and was getting ready to get out when he leaned over, put his hand behind my neck and gently pulled me in for a long, slow kiss. It was only a moment but the thought of that kiss still makes me shiver!

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

I want the grass thing too! do you think not having a yard is going to hinder that?.. yeah prolly right :o)

never really done the V day thing, here (Aus) it really not that big a deal when I was growing up. Now it's well getting huge that is if your a florist or a jewellery store.

But the sweetest thing ever done (without prompting)by my hairy half on this mushiest of days is, this year he went out and bought (yes unprompted and to a store) me two pairs of yoga pants for my upcomming cycle he wrote a note saying and I quote.
" I love you babe but those old trackie dacks suck"
hey he didn't even know it was V Day. I'm keeping the note it's just so him :o)
I got him coffee this morning and even whipped up hotdogs for lunch, I'm so romantic I scare me.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Anna said...

We keep it pretty low ley for Valentine's Day. About a week before I asked hubs what he would like to do, and he replied, "Just have a nice dinner out and spend some time with you." I love flowers, and I tend to specify which kind (tulips), which he got me a vase of and they're beautiful! Other than the cards, we don't really do the gift thing. There really isn't anything I want, and he's all set too, so it's just a day to take time with each other, which is the best.

The most touching card he ever gave me for valentine's day was 2 years ago, during our first IVF cycle. In the card he drew our two little embryos and captioned them: "We promise we'll stick, mom!." I get teary thinking about it now... That cycle didn't work, but the sentiments expressed still mean so much.

At 12:21 AM, Blogger the waiting line said...

. . . I really dislike Valentine's Day for the same reasons you mentioned. And, yet, when hubby showed up today with roses - even after I specifically told him not to get me anything -- well, I have to admit that was VERY NICE. damn capitalism!

-- a fellow infertile lawyer (there's a conspiracy there, don't ya think?)

At 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to confess-I love of the Valentine's Day. Luuuuuuuuuuurve it. I always have, even when I've been single. I just think it's nice to have a day where you are reminded to make a special effort. It doesn't have to be about diamonds, or whipped cream and furry handcuffs, or anything like that. I just like that extra-little something that the day means.

Sorry :(

I will prepare myself emotionally for the stoning that I am sure you want to send my way.


At 8:01 AM, Anonymous thalia said...

I like valentine's but the mister isn't really getting it. I think it's a boy thing. And that he's not happy with work so that comes through into how thoughtful he is. But I still made an effort, and I'm ok with that.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Valentine's Day is just another day to celebrate. So what if it was invented by Hallmark. Its sweet. I went to see Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare's Tavern in ATL with my husband, brother and his wife. Its was fun and a lot better than a typical Tuesday night. Life is what you choose to make it. I say choose to make Valentine's Day a celebration of the love you feel for your spouse/SO everyday.


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