we like lists: list # 14: three reasons you like/dislike valentine's day

Do you like Valentine's Day? Do you celebrate it or avoid it? Do you celebrate it and avoid it? Tell us why. Three reasons, please.

I don't do Valentine's Day. Here's why.

1. I don't like being told when to be romantic. If everyone is supposed to be romantic at once, where's the romance in that?

2. It's another weapon of mass consumption. Buy, buy, buy, more, more, more.

3. Here's a Valentine's Day story from my childhood. I'm not sure what grade this was in, possibly first. We made paper and cardboard mailboxes, decorated with hearts and whatnot. Then everyone was to make valentines, as they were called, and deliver them to classmates' mailboxes.

My mother had a package of these little valentines. One side was a heart or a goopy picture of a puppy, very cheap stuff, the other side was blank, and you folded it closed. We made a valentine for each child in the class. I don't remember exactly how this happened, but I think my mother must have had a class list. I wrote my name on a bunch of cards, folded them in half, then I think my mother wrote kids' names on the front of the cards.

The next day, Valentine's Day, all the kids went around the classroom delivering their cards to each other's mailboxes. Mine was full of cards, tons of kids had given me valentines, which I think surprised me.

There was one boy in the class who only had one valentine, the one from me. If my mother hadn't set up the project the way she did, he would have had none. No one thought of him.

Valentine's Day is an opportunity for millions of people to feel like that boy must have felt that day, only worse. The card companies, the chocolate companies, the jewelry stores, the florists, the restaurants - it's all a huge set-up for people to feel left out and passed over.


johngoldfine said...

Three reasons I like Valentine's Day:

1. It is the anniversary of the arrival of the worst academic dean I've ever had, so the date has a certain irony and is an easy aid to remind me how long she has been a torment.

2. I get to tease my students a little:

Me: My wife wanted it, and I gave it to her!

Students: (snicker)

Me: Yep, I filled the whole wood box for her for Valentine's Day. Very romantic!

Students: Are you kidding?

Me: Are you kidding? That's as romantic as it gets after being an item for a half-century!

3. The day is a sign that it's time to get my thumb out and put in my garden seed order. Today!

Amy said...

I don't have as negative a feeling about Valentine's Day, but I do hate all the hype and commercialism. I remember those Valentine boxes in school also. Another change since my youth: my kids did the same thing but everyone gave a card to everyone in the class. Your mom was just ahead of her time!

OK, the list--which I have to modify a bit to give 3 reasons I like and 3 I don't like since I couldn't do one OR the other:


1. We usually go out for a nice meal.

2. I usually get flowers.

3. It's a chance to give and receive a card reminding each other how much we love each other.


1. Hype and commercialism

2. How it must make my single daughter and all other single people feel.

3. Feeling forced to feel romantic when sometimes I just am not feeling it that particular day.

M@ said...

I have always hated Valentine's Day -- I was always worried, when I was a kid, that I'd be that little boy in your class. I don't think I ever was but I worried about it.

So my list:

1. Ditto on the consumerism, being told how to feel and when, etc.

2. Restaurants are overpriced, crowded, and annoying for the whole week.

3. The opportunity in journalism to flood the media with pointless seasonal articles that have nearly zero content or purpose other than to reinforce itself -- it's Valentine's Day (or week, more like), so we're printing tons of articles on "romance", and you know it's an important holiday because of all the coverage it's getting, which means we have to print tons of articles...

juna said...

Don't hate it or love it, but I do feel there's too much potential for sadness on the part of those who aren't with someone they care about and wish that they were. I also have a sad memory from third or fourth grade, when, on Valentine's Day, I inadvertently put a card in the communal classroom box for everyone except one boy. At the end of the day, after all the cards were distributed, this boy approached me and said sadly and fiercely, "Don't ever do that to me again!"

sassy said...


1. A day when I am reminded of the years when I shared my life with my soul mate and how very fortunate I am to have had those years.

2. That included in my circle of friends are people who currently enjoy loving partnerships and how nice it is for me to witness those.

3. That loving and being loved by others, (friends, family, even pets) makes my world a worthwhile place.

Don't like.

1. Commercialism
2. Commercialism
3. Commercialism

laura k said...

Cool lists so far!

I find it interesting that thoughtful people really do view this day as a genuine opportunity to express love and affection for their partners.

laura k said...

Amy, I thought perhaps you might view V-Day the way you view book clubs.

Amy said...

I am not sure I see the parallel except for the "assigned reading" being like "assigned romance." And that is part of what I don't like---don't tell me what I should read or when I should feel romantic!

laura k said...

Yes, that's the parallel. I remember you saying you don't like book clubs because you don't like being told what to read. I thought perhaps you would dislike V-Day because you're being told to be romantic. But you also like it for other reasons.

Amy said...

Yes, I am conflicted. :) Life is so rarely black and white!

laura k said...

At the end of the day, after all the cards were distributed, this boy approached me and said sadly and fiercely, "Don't ever do that to me again!"

Oh god that would suck. I think I'd rather be the person who didn't get the card than the recipient of that reproach.

laura k said...

The Nation: Occupy Valentine's Day:

Valentine’s Day has become the ultimate symbol of the relationship between love and economic interests. But we don’t have to buy the same false promises left to us by the RIC. We can instead, like Occupy Wall Street, take an economic recession and fill it with ideas of possibility. The important role that loving relationships—romantic and otherwise—play in maintaining a happy, engaged, active and compassionate society cannot be denied.

That’s why this year the lovers of the world should unite and Occupy Valentine’s Day. Romantic citizens deserve a better, more authentic and sustainable ways to express their affections—whether that be spending time with their friends and families, donating money they would spend on a romantic dinner to a domestic violence shelter, forgoing that expensive wedding for a more meaningful but less costly one. Above all, let’s find a way to honor ourselves that does not rely on buying stuff.

RIC = "romantic-industrial complex"

deang said...

I am notorious among my friends for being almost completely oblivious to holidays. I didn’t even know it was Valentine’s Day until I heard today’s Democracy Now Valentine’s Day segment featuring excerpts on long-term relationships recorded with the StoryCorps oral history project. As a normally very solitary person, I have never related much to the cultural emphasis on long-term romantic relationships so I was prepared to be put off, but it actually made my eyes tear up a few times.

I have mixed feelings about the holiday overall. I don’t like it for these reasons:

1. It influences people to think that they have to do certain, very specific things in order for their loved one to know that they really care about them, potentially making them feel insecure about their relationship when they really have no reason to. I have known several people to become upset because, though they had great relationships with their partners, the partners hadn’t, say, brought them red roses on Valentine’s Day, or said “I love you” enough times, or taken them out to eat, or whatever else TV shows and magazines had said they should if they really loved them. Such things probably would never have occurred to them absent the marketing.

2. It isn’t necessary. People who like each other already like each other and hopefully make that known to each other regularly in their own ways.

3. I don’t like strawberry or cherry flavoring (though I love actual strawberries), and there’s a lot of pink cake around on Valentine’s Day.

But I like it for these reasons:

1. I actually liked those valentine’s cards from childhood. If I remember correctly, our elementary school teachers in the early 70s would distribute cards to all the students in the class so no one was left out. I was somewhere between being one of the “in group” kids and being one of the “out group” kids, so I don’t remember being hurt or seeing other people hurt, though it must have happened.

2. I love those little heart candies.

3. It has a long and sort of interesting history.

impudent strumpet said...

I've never felt that the world is improved by the existence's of valentine's day. Reasons for dislike:

1. If you're coupled, the designation of the day for romance makes it extremely difficult to actually achieve romantic effect on an emotional level. Flowers? Cliche! Candy? Cliche! Wine? Cliche! Lingerie? Cliche! Going out for dinner? Cliche and crowded! You need innovation and inspiration and good luck to achieve the same effect on v-day as is achieved by a surprise cupcake on a random day on October.

2. If you're single against your will and/or despite your best efforts, you have to run a depressing gauntlet in card stores, gift stores, drugstores, dollar stores etc. practically from just after new year's, and in all media from the beginning of February.

3. Red and white are my least favourite flavours of jelly beans.

impudent strumpet said...

Ooops, sorry for the painful typos. I'm under the influence of medication (reason #4 on my list: had to get dental work today of all days) and didn't realize it was affecting my typing so much.

laura k said...

deang's #1 reason, so true!

johngoldfine's #3 reason is an interesting way to use the day.

John F said...

I've come to hate the crass commercialism of all holidays, not just Valentine's Day. By January 3, my local grocery store had all their Christmas decorations down. The next day, the freaking pink and red hearts were everywhere. I have to stop by today on my way home from work, and fully expect to see Easter bunnies lurking hideously in the shadows. Late spring and summer brings a respite, until the corporate approved ghosts 'n goblins try to scare money out of my wallet. Then the bearded bastard is back.

I'm with Amy. I do not choose to limit my feelings to a particular day or season. I would rather give gifts when I want to give gifts, rather than making it into a chore.

laura k said...

These holidays getting earlier and earlier every year is completely ridiculous. No one likes it, everyone notes it with dismay. If we really must have themed decorations up at every moment, why not switch to something generic in between holidays FFS?