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Ryan Johnson, Published February 13 2014

Johnson: Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to find a way to say ‘I love you’

Valentine’s Day is the worst holiday, just another reminder from society that being single is something to be embarrassed about.

That’s what I thought for many years as a perpetual loner. Then, I met a great person, fell in love and found myself in a terrific relationship, and my opinion changed.

Or at least I thought it would. But here’s the thing: it didn’t. At all. Valentine’s Day is still the worst, even as I prepare to mark my third holiday with Dave.

An unexpected romantic gesture is great, and everyone lucky enough to be in a relationship should try their best to pull off these pleasant little surprises as often as they can.

But there’s nothing romantic about a mid-February day that has become little more than peer pressure to spend as much money as possible to shower our significant others with chocolate, flowers, cards and jewelry.

Not everyone will agree with my hatred of this holiday that we observe on the date of St. Valentine’s three-part execution – not exactly the most romantic historical event to remember.

Still, I have a problem with people relying on prewritten Hallmark cards full of sappy, generic professions of love to tell their loved ones how they supposedly feel. I take offense at our society deciding that the price tag of the Valentine’s Day gifts that we buy somehow equates to how much we love the most important people in our life.

And, I don’t see any romance in a box of cheap chocolates and a bouquet of flowers that are picked up at the last minute because we didn’t think of anything meaningful to get our loved ones.

I think it’s crucial for every couple to find at least a few times each year to profess their love to each other, to say how we feel and make sure that we’re not taking them for granted. “I love you” is still a necessary utterance, no matter how long the couple has been together or what they’ve been through.

But don’t do it because you saw a commercial for a diamond bracelet or heard about an overpriced Valentine’s Day meal at a chain restaurant.

These supposedly romantic gestures only mean something if they are genuine and heartfelt. Otherwise, they’re nothing but an empty show of how much money we could afford to drop on things that we didn’t spend any time picking out or making ourselves.

For Dave and I, this Valentine’s Day will be a quiet evening together at home trying to avoid the excesses and shallowness of the holiday. We’ll buy a $7 heart-shaped pepperoni pizza from Papa Murphy’s to bake at home, and then curl up on the couch to watch a movie together.

That’s the perfect night for us – and we both had independently thought a slice of ’za far away from the bustling restaurants and crowded bars would be our ideal way of avoiding the holiday. Great minds think alike.

It’s not because we’re unromantic; it’s because we don’t need to go through the fake motions sold to us by this artificial holiday to tell each other how happy we are to be in a relationship.

We’ll have a big meal at a nice restaurant on our anniversary, and we’ll find our own little ways throughout the year to say those three words that never get old: “I love you.”

But I don’t need a Hallmark card with meaningless professions of love written by robots to know that Dave loves me, and he doesn’t need an expensive gift just because it’s mid-February to know I love him.

I already have the best present I could ask for – I’m in a great relationship with someone I love, and he loves me back.

No chocolate sampler box or flashy watch will top that gift, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other holiday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587