Editor's Note: Taking the romance out of Valentine's Day

I wasn’t always a fan of Valentine’s Day. As a teenager, I was one of those angsty, moody kids who insist on wearing black and sending anti-valentines to all their friends.

When I reached college, my first college boyfriend said he shared my antipathy for the holiday – it didn’t occur to me until long after we had broken up that he may have been flattering me just to avoid buying me a gift.

Then the man I eventually married came along. He turned out to be a true romantic, and all of a sudden, flowers and romance and heart-shaped cards didn’t seem sappy at all.

OK, maybe a little sappy. But in a good way.

That first Valentine’s Day, he left a trail of Hershey’s kisses from the front door through the house, ending at a big paper heart that said, “I kiss the ground you walk on.” Sappy? Oh, yeah. But also very sweet, and bonus, I was holding a bucket of chocolate. (Guys, take note.)

Over the years, like most couples, we’ve gotten less dramatic – a card and some flowers, maybe dinner out if we can get a babysitter. And that’s fine by me. I like telling the stories of the grand gestures, but it’s certainly not something I want every year. Besides, we’re one of those lovey-dovey types that make our friends gag all year round.

So even though I still don’t think we need a day dedicated to telling people we love them – we should do that every day – I’d like to tell my 16-year-old self that it’s not an entirely bad idea.

(There are a lot of other things I’d like to tell my 16-year-old self, but dropping the attitude about Valentine’s Day is a place to start.)

Valentine’s Day’s focus on romantic relationships is a big part of the problem, making those who are single and would like to be in a relationship feel left out. It would be better if it were more of an all-inclusive day of love, the way it was when we were little kids.

Remember, at the classroom valentine party, you walked around the room and dropped a valentine onto the desk of all of your friends – or in some cases, everybody – and it had nothing at all to do with romance. (One word: cooties.) You also made a valentine to take home to your mom, and maybe one for your grandma or your babysitter.

It would be nice if Valentine’s Day was more about making people feel special than about declaring feelings of romance.

Back to my personal Romeo for a moment: on another Valentine’s Day, he showed up at my office with a small bouquet of roses for me, plus a single blossom for a coworker who had been very vocal in the weeks leading up to Feb. 14 about how depressed she was that she had no boyfriend to send her a Valentine’s Day present. I think the flower kind of freaked her out, but I couldn’t have been prouder of my own valentine, who thought everyone deserved to feel special on the day of love.

Enjoy your MidWeek.


Due to incorrect information submitted to The MidWeek, the article “Novak, Madsen wed” on page 36 of the Feb. 5 edition contained an error. Emma Benson of Earlville was the junior bridesmaid.

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