It's almost Valentine's Day. I haven't been single for the last fifteen Valentine's Days (this one will be the sixteenth) which means nobody is really trying to impress me on February 14th.
(No offense, Honey.)
But the thing is, I don't mind. It actually kind of irritates me, the V-Day showmanship. Okay, it really irritates me. It's worse if you hang out on the Internet a lot. Which I don't, of course, because I have a full and interesting life.*
*And by "full and interesting" I mean "full of disgusting messes to clean up and butts to wipe and interesting to those who enjoy laughing at other people's expense." **
**And I totally hang out on the Internet all the time. Duh. I'm a blogger. I'm probably stalking your Facebook page as you read this. Nice profile pic, btw.
Anyway, I'm sure my various news feeds will be full of photos from people who think that the strength and quality of their relationship is directly proportional to the kind of gift they're given. Like a huge sparkly gem and a box of chocolates the size of Texas is going to guarantee that you'll stay happily together into old age. News flash: someone sending flowers to your office may make your coworkers jealous, but it says nothing of how your relationship is going to weather the days that aren't Valentine's Day - the days that are, in fact, pretty much the polar opposite.
Sure, it's great that we have a special day designated to celebrating our partners. Sometimes (often!) real life gets in the way of romance, and your relationship takes a hit, and you need an actual reminder to stop and appreciate the person you fell in love with. But buying someone a big gift on Valentine's Day hardly says anything to me except "I was obligated to give you this because we're in a relationship and that's what people do on February 14th" or "I bought you this so you can show it off on the Internet and everyone can be impressed because hello, Valentine's Day."
You wanna know what gestures of love truly impress me?
Gestures that are made on other days of the year, when we're not suckered into it by social media and pressure to compete with our friends and "tradition."
Gestures that are made on, say, a Tuesday afternoon when your significant other knows you've had a crazy day and brings home takeout. Or notices that you're a total zombie after dinner and says, "Why don't you just go on to bed? I'll take over from here." Or gives you a plant - not a flower - on some random Wednesday, for no reason, because he knows you like plants better than flowers since they last forever. Or tells you with sincerity how special you are, how important, when you're standing at the sink in your sweatpants and bedhead, doing the breakfast dishes on a Sunday morning.
The most romantic gestures aren't made at the prompting of the calendar, or of society. And true love isn't demonstrated through extravagant and showy offerings. It's the whispered conversations after bedtime. The offer to be the "mean one" who takes the kids in for immunizations because you can't stand to see them cry. The sharing of a load you can't bear to carry alone, whether it's dishes or depression.
The best gifts aren't baubles or trinkets or stuffed animals or vacations given simply because it happens to be Valentine's Day. The best gifts are the kind that take thought and feeling and effort, the kind that say, "I know what you need because I know you, I see who you are and what you're going through, and I care about the things that make you happy."
Those are the things we need to celebrate. Not on February 14th - but whenever they happen to happen. "Just because" means much more to me than "Just because it's Valentine's Day."
(Although, Honey? Don't forget that those Texas-sized boxes of chocolates will be on sale February 15th.)