Year after year, on the 14th February, regular as clockwork, I would jokingly ask my husband if I’d need to arrange for a semi trailer or maybe a road train to come to my office to help me transport home all those flowers that he would undoubtedly be sending me. Just as well I didn’t hold my breath, (and if you’ve read my book “Midlife Manifesto” you’ll know that particular story doesn’t end well!) Even so, I really do understand his reluctance. We both felt an instinctive distaste for the compulsive nature of the day. Why did he have to do what everyone expected and send flowers? I tend to be a bit contrary by nature and instinctively challenge when I am expected to do something no questions asked. (Don’t think I’d make a good citizen of North Korea). As with many things, the passage of time has hardened my stance, and what was once a vague unease over St V’s has swollen into a positive antipathy of the bloody day.
It’s not just the sheer cost and commercialisation of the whole thing – which is, buy the way, quite staggering. Guess how much Aussies spend celebrating the feast day of the dead Roman saint? Nearly a billion bucks, including $350 million on the day’s most unimaginative gifts - chocolates and flowers (surely the sox and jox of Valentines day). It also how it has grown and spread, leading to fathers giving their daughters Valentine’s gifts. Creepy. Wake up people!
There is a healthy groundswell of anti Valentine parties, and anti Valentine cards are readily available on line. Among my favourites are “Forget love. I’d rather fall in chocolate” or “Do I have a date for Valentine? Yes, February 14th”, or “Bacon is my Valentine”. I’m not quite as “bah humbugish” enough to suggest that we boycott it all together. But it’s certainly time for a reboot.
If you are married. Demonstrating how much you love someone shouldn’t be confined to one day, especially when that day is spent proving to others that you are loved. While researching “Midlife Manifesto” I was shocked how dismissive most women are of their husbands. If you choose to be – and stay - married, honour and embrace it and do something loving every single day. Tell your partner you love them. Leave a note in their pocket, give them a random kiss, put a sweet post-it on the bathroom mirror, buy them a kite, make them something by hand. It’s not about a (hideous) heart shaped box of chocolates once a year. It’s about showing your true heart every day.
If you are single. The most important relationship you have in the world – from your first breath in, to its pair, your last breath out, is the one you have with yourself. If you don’t like what you see (inside and out) nothing in your life will come together. So spend the day thinking about who you are and want to be, and celebrate that – buy a beautiful notebook for your thoughts, book a massage, gobble up a lobster, or enjoy a CLB (candle lit bath) with a glass of champagne. A celebration of you. Your own St Raphael’s Day, the patron saint of singles. Much better.