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A Hallmark Moment

Apparently I didn’t get the memo.  You know, the one stating that Valentine’s Day has become an all important, national holiday in and of itself.  I’m convinced Hallmark was the main lobbyist behind it; nonetheless it seems to be official.  So are you caught up in all the Hullabaloo or are you taking a Stop the Insanity stand against all that gets put on February 14th?

Valentine’s Day in theory is a great idea for a day.  I am all in favor of professing your love and devotion to that special person (people) in your life.  I enjoy large bouquets of flowers, decadent chocolate desserts and candlelit dinners for two.  A sweet, sentimental card from your sweetheart telling you the 9 things he or she adores about you is even better.  What I am NOT in favor of is being told that this is what we must do.  Somehow the sentiment spills away when someone is practically being forced to do all of that – and more! 

“What?! He didn’t get you flowers??” one of my friends gasped to the other.  “Ooh – is he in the doghouse now or what!” 

Seriously?  Forgetting your birthday….  now THAT is doghouse material.  But not conforming to what FTD and Hallmark have deemed the “norm?”  I don’t know – I’d say, cut the guy some slack. (Am I just begging for Hate Mail for that one??)

Don’t get me wrong; I think it is a great day for dating folk and newlyweds.  Sometimes in those early stages it feels like you need an excuse to get all gushy and romantic.  Go for it – buy up the shop.  But once you have kids, do you know what Valentine’s Day really means?  It means “helping” your kids each write out 20 valentines (one for every kid in their class).  It means taping on the lollipop the other parents might hate you for (but all the kids go crazy over – and don’t you want the kids going crazy for YOUR Valentines?!) and sealing them up with the appropriate stickers (very important step).

And for this painfully slow process, I’m talking about using store bought cards.  We did the elaborate “cut out and make your own” one year and Martha Steward aside, I quickly learned there was NO benefit in time, effort and frustration energy it took – it was certainly not the Zen experience I was looking for and if you have ever been in a classroom where Valentines are being opened, you know first hand the kids could care less if it is home made or store bought (they actually seem to prefer the latter, especially if you hit it right with that year’s cool media brand).  Yes, I have learned my lesson the hard way.

Then there is the parent that told me one Valentine’s Day at Kindergarten pick-up, where she stood with her arms full of huge Mylar balloons, a big white teddy bear, and a large bouquet of lollipops (all for just her child!) that her poor little girl was crushed that morning when Daddy gave Mommy a Valentine’s Day present to open (containing a diamond bracelet) and there was nothing for her.  “My bad!” the mom told me as she waited, laden down with all these gifts to make up for it.  There were so many balloons several of the kids thought she was handing them out to everyone (including my son, who then asked if it was her birthday.  Ya would think). 

Perhaps I speak as a mom without a current babysitter (oops – I mean kid-sitter) to rely on to provide a romantic evening out this Saturday night.  But the whole thing feels a lot like New Year’s Eve to me – a night you are expected to go out and party and have fun, damn it, because after all that is what everyone does.  Yeah, I never have much liked doing what “they” recommend.  Must be the Aries in me.

This Zen Mama Wannabe loves a romantic evening out – but I don’t want or need someone else picking the night for me and telling me this is when it has to be.  I don’t need to bother with crowded restaurants and funky menus designed (and priced) just for this occasion.  I love love love bouquets of flowers – not so much when it is expected, but rather out of the blue, “just because.”  Now that makes my heart sing. 

Besides the exhausting school exchange, we sent Valentines to some family members (a much more fun endeavor) so they’d know we were thinking of them.  We bought my mom a little box of chocolate (her favorite) and surprised her with it while she was eating breakfast at her retirement home this morning.  She certainly seemed to be the envy of many of her friends and tablemates!

We also made sure we dropped off a little box to the receptionist there, who is ALWAYS giving my kids little treats when they come over to visit.  We signed the card, “What goes around, comes around!”  From the look on her face, I know my theory is true: it is the unexpected that seems to mean the most.   Feel free to pass it along to Hallmark; I don’t think they got that memo.

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5 Responses to “A Hallmark Moment”

  1. LarkLady Says:
    February 13th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    “It is the unexpected that seems to mean the most.” That rings particularly true for me today, when I got an unexpected Valentine card at work from one of the guys who does some work for us on a regular basis. He came in to bring me his monthly invoice, and along with it was a cute card with an adorable puppy dog on it. Nothing expensive; nothing over the top. Just a cute card and a note of thanks for being so cheerful whenever he comes in. Entirely unexpected — and looking at it put a smile on my face the rest of the day.

    My own way of dealing with it all this year was to make valentines instead of going to the card store… less money, more time and energy, but a lot more fun! At church this year, we made and sent Valentines to the troops, and I made a dozen or so for that; I made them for family and some friends. Nothing that will overwhelm anyone, but at least I felt like I was putting a part of my heart into it 😉

    We joke about how Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. have all become “Hallmark Holidays” but there’s more than a little truth in it, I’m afraid. What started out to be a day to pay special attention to your Special Someone in February, or a day to honor your mother in May or your father in June, have all become overblown and somewhat absurd. And it’s easy to start feeling coerced into blowing it all out of proportion… or just plain grumpy because we’re no longer doing something because we WANT to — we’re doing it because it’s expected.

    I remember my mom making sugar cookies, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, then put our names on them with frosting. Did she do that every year? Or was it just some years? Probably the latter… but I remember how fun and how special it was — not to mention how yummy!

  2. soloranger Says:
    February 15th, 2009 at 7:35 am

    I was once remanded to the doghouse for not adorning my girlfriend with something special on “Sweetest Day”. Up until that particular October 19th, I didn’t even know that such a day existed. Needles to say, when my sentence was over, I just kept on walking.

    These “love days” do have their place–they are great for those who lack imagination and spontaneity.

  3. LarkLady Says:
    February 15th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Since Sweetest Day was invented by Cleveland candy makers, I’d say your instincts for self-preservation were good, soloranger! Unless of course you and the lady in question were from Cleveland, where I understand there is a regional following for the “holiday.”

  4. Zen Mama Wannabe Says:
    February 16th, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Sweetest Day?? You have got to be kidding me? It’s like Grandparents Day (like they needed a day all to themselves? even when Mother’s Day is full of Happy Mother’s Day Grandma cards, etc.?) Between all these “important” occasions, I find myself EXHAUSTED!

    I go back to the “unexpected.” It is those (few) times I’ve received flowers that I have treasured the most. Same with cards/notes. Sorry Hallmark!

  5. callieandbatido Says:
    February 16th, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I can’t help but feel a combination of things when I read this blog. One was “I hate this made up holiday too!” and the other “How sad we spend time and energy on our kids school party instead of on the one we love.” That said, I am not sure WHAT I think. I too feel it is a “Hallmark Holiday” but I can’t help but feel a little sad that we have rationalized yet another reason to do something for the kids (we HAVE to do Valentine’s for the school party even if it is a stupid holiday, what would people think?!) but not giving the same to our significant other. I settled for a card and a small chocolate bar for my husband this year and skipped the kids altogether. Luckily he rose to the occassion for the rest of the family. Because afterall, it is a holiday to celebrate those you love, even if it IS a made up holiday!

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