Cast aside your cynicism and embrace all the cheesiness of February 14th this year. After the pandemic, we deserve some fun and frolics ... and chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate!
• THE roadshow otherwise known as Valentine’s Day has rolled into town. To be honest I was going to get all angry and indignant about the commercialism of it all, but I couldn’t quite muster up the conviction. With all that’s going on in the world (climate change, rising energy costs, Neighbours being axed), a day where we’re bulldozed into declaring our love for each other/ourselves/our dog is something to be embraced, right? Let’s offer no resistance and just go with it. Squeezy hugs and cheesy memes all round please.
• How you mark the occasion pretty much depends on what stage of life you’re at. During the teen years you’re heavily invested. I remember in boarding school days in Clonakilty the pressure was real. Like immense. The post used to be given out by Sr Therese at morning break in the refectory and on February 14th we’d all be milling around trying to act nonchalant, but literally sweating in our green boiled wool jumpers in the hope that we’d get something. The thing was that it was an all-girls boarding school so there was very little, if any, opportunity to meet boys of any description, even ones you wouldn’t want to send you a card. The girls who lived in towns had a big advantage over us country girls, the Dunmanway girls especially as the swimming pool was a real social hub. They were the ones who’d usually get sent teddies (they were big in the early 90s). The city girls also had an edge and generally got the roses (it was usually just one single, well-travelled looking rose, but still). Huge cards with padded fronts were also a major thing and they’d nearly always be signed with SWALK (sealed with a loving kiss.) I mean what else could you ask for?. God bless my mother is all I’ll say, for sparing my blushes and sending me something usually signed ‘Guess who?’ in barely disguised writing. They were innocent, but also slightly stressful, days.
• Of course if you’re in the first flush of love, Valentine’s is also a big day (or rather a ‘Big Test’) where you try to outdo each other with over-the-top, grand gestures to show how deep runneth your love. This is not the time for early birds, or chocolates (even the expensive ones). It’s about whisking someone off to Paris for dinner and getting back in time for work the next morning, a self-penned poem, maybe a puppy, or a piece of jewellery made from stones you gathered on your first walk together. If you didn’t keep the stones … is your heart really in the relationship? Basically, go big or you’ll be going home.
• If you’re in a well-established relationship, the pressure is less intense. In fact there’s no pressure at all, and that’s another problem. I usually warn my husband of 10 years to have a bit of sense and not to be wasting money on flowers or chocolates. Then when he takes me at my word (which he usually does, he’s good like that) things get a bit ugly. Or at least I do. The annual February 14th exchange usually plays out like this: Me: ‘So you actually got me nothing?’ Him: ‘But you told me not to get you anything.’ Me: ‘But I didn’t actually mean nothing, nothing, Did you really not get me anything at all? Is this a joke? Is the present in the car?’ Him: ‘Eh, how about I go and get some wine?’ Me: ‘Oh fine so.’ Followed by a text two minutes later from me: ‘Oh and crisps too. Love you xxx’
• Of course a relatively new occasion, and one that I can readily get behind is ‘Galentines.’ It’s marked on February 13th and it’s a day to celebrate fabulous female friendships. It’s a totally made-up occasion and a totally brilliant one. I mean is there anything that can’t be sorted by a chat with a pal or a night out with your gals? Exactly. But lots of us, myself included, can be guilty of not investing as much time in our friendships as we should. Life is busy, weeks slip by, and things slide. But platonic relationships deserve as much nurturing as romantic
ones, so use this as an opportunity to pick up the phone (it doesn’t matter if it’s been a while, that’s the beauty of friendship) and tell someone how much they mean to you. You can go back to WhatsApping each other for the rest of the year then with messages like ‘Can’t talk now, sorry, I’ll try you next Wednesday at 7pm and if I don’t answer you try me on the Saturday after next at 8am. Talk soon. Or in 2025.’
• So look, I don’t care how jaded and cynical you are, this Valentine’s Day why not buy the teddy, send the card, get the chocolates (even if you eat them yourself), meet someone’s gaze, take a chance, swipe right (or is it left?)? I’m going to go all out and get the crisps in myself this year and I’ll promise not to ask too many annoying questions about whatever it is we’re watching. Who said romance was dead?