When I Said I Didn’t Want To Celebrate Valentine’s Day, What I Really Meant Was…
Why I stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day
I stopped celebrating Valentines’ Day when I was in my 20s and dating a dashing man who was excellent at gift giving. Why would I do such a stupid thing you ask?
Well, it all started with a lie.
It was an innocent statement made over happy hour drinks with my boyfriend.
“I’ve never liked how commercialized Valentine’s Day has become,” he said.
“Sometimes I think it’s just an excuse for people to spend money on cards, flowers, and expensive dinners when they can say ‘I Love You’ all year long, not just on that one day.”
He had a point: People could say those three precious words at any time during the year, putting on the same big show of affection as they did on February 14th. He didn’t say he hated the holiday — just that he hated the huge production that Valentine’s Day had become.
I was 27 years old, falling in love with this man, and trying to present the best, most “cool girlfriend” image of myself in his presence. With little regard to the consequences of such a statement, I calmly agreed.
“I think so too.” The words just fell out of my mouth. “Valentine’s Day is so overdone.”
I even inserted an eye-roll for added believability of how silly I felt this holiday was. “It’s a turnoff how everyone makes it such a big deal with unrealistic expectations. That’s definitely not my style.”
With those frivolous five words: “That’s Definitely Not My Style,” unknowingly, I had secured my fate. Oh, how careless and naïve I truly was!
In actuality I didn’t mind Valentine’s Day and any excuse to get dressed up and go out was a holiday worth celebrating in my book. I enjoyed gushing over the man in my life and proclaiming my feelings in a card, with a surprise dinner reservation, or some other unusual outing that would knock his socks off – I loved the whole day!
Even as a child, my favorite holiday in elementary school was Valentine’s Day because we spent endless afternoon hours meticulously cutting out construction paper hearts to make valentines for classmates.
My 10-year-old-self would have been ashamed at how quickly I sold out my affinity for this holiday.
To complicate matters, my lie only grew from there. Fast forward 6 years from that fateful happy hour and that same dashing man was now my husband. Over the course of our engagement and newlywed years, he took my words to heart as any understanding partner would: We never celebrated Valentine’s Day.
To my dismay, my plan to be the coolest girlfriend he may have ever dated was also what led to the end of my Valentine’s Day observances forever.
When the topic of Valentine’s Day would come up in conversation among friends, relatives, or pure strangers off the street, my husband would proudly slip in at some point in the chatter, “Oh we don’t really ‘do’ Valentine’s Day. Neither of us are really a big fan of it, so it’s just not our style to make the day a big deal.”
Each pronouncement was his show of pride for having such a laid-back wife who didn’t put the pressures of society on the marriage.
For me, each time I heard the words come out of his mouth, it was like watching a home video of myself tripping over my own feet and falling face flat to the ground, over and over and over. I had made a mistake and now I was forced to relive my folly every February and sometimes more often than that.
This charade went on in our marriage for years before I finally snapped in a fit of self-loathing regret.
While discussing his work travel plans taking place over Valentine’s Day that year, my husband casually mentioned how he was thankful I didn’t like Valentine’s Day because it took pressure off of him to figure out how to celebrate it while he was out of town.
Another Valentine’s Day with no acknowledgement? I couldn’t accept the thought.
I only had myself to blame of course. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t know I had lied, but I DID know and it was time to come clean.
“That’s it, I can’t take it anymore!” I blurted out.
[stunned, silent stare from my husband.]
“I don’t hate Valentine’s Day, I never did hate Valentine’s Day. I actually really like celebrating the day, getting gifts, going out and having a date.” I unloaded the entire stream of pent-up frustration that had been years in the making.
With a baffled look and one raised eyebrow, my husband calmly asked, “What are you talking about?”
“I never hated Valentine’s Day. I only told you it wasn’t a big deal when we were dating so that you wouldn’t think I was some Valentine’s-obsessed-crazy person needing lots of gifts or surprises.”
There. My secret was finally out. It felt good. It felt liberating.
I felt like a big fool.
“You mean for all of these years you’ve really wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Why didn’t you just tell me the truth?” he asked.
Great question – why hadn’t I just told the truth? My husband’s question was so simple and yet such a deep conviction on my character.
Back in our dating days, I was trying to be laid back, easy going and very calm about any indication I was serious about this man as a marriage prospect. Except, I was serious about him, and in trying too hard to appear as though I was unconcerned, I actually cared SO much that I made up a lie about myself.
This was a bigger lesson for me than just missing Valentine’s Day for a few years; it was a demonstration of how one simple false statement, allowed to set roots, could grow beyond any measure of expectation I had.
Thankfully despite my own ill-fated interventions to the truth, we were blessed to get married and build a genuine and loving relationship, minus the whole Valentine’s Day lie.
I’d like to think we recovered nicely that day the truth can tumbling out. I sheepishly apologized for carrying on a false narrative for all of those years, and my husband graciously suggested that we start doing something special for Valentine’s Day. It was a happy ending I couldn’t have asked for, but certainly was elated to receive!
This year for Valentine’s Day we’ll exchange cards and maybe share a dinner out, and it will be a truly fun evening shared between two friends, now husband and wife.
We’ll toast to our marriage, our child and to the fact that we stand solidly on the side of telling the truth.