Valentine’s Day, the invention of the insensitive no doubt. It reminds those who are single that they are – well – single. It reminds those who have been dumped that they have been – well – dumped. It reminds those who have been cheated on that their louse of an ex will be – well – showering their new lover with gratuitous grand gestures.
I remember one occasion where an ex had the audacity to dump me on Valentine’s day. I could not accept this. I had never been dumped before. He had to repeatedly explain to me that I was, indeed, dumped. The ‘dumping’ took place at various locations around Farnham as I struggled to grasp the concept that someone might not want to be with me! I am now much more familiar with Farnham town centre than I ever was before and it is a rather nice town to be ‘dumped’ in, I highly recommend it!
Perhaps we miss the point with Valentine’s day though. Perhaps there is another way to look at it. Rather than a celebration of ‘romance’ perhaps we should change our approach to the whole thing and instead embrace it as a celebration of fun and love!
For years I would send my much younger brother a valentine card. I would get a colleague to write it and send it from a destination unconnected with me and then fain complete ignorance of it when he, every year, accused me of sending it! I have now replaced this annual tradition with sending ‘anonymous’ cards to my two sons. “Mummy”, they exclaim, “We know it is you!”. “Whom, moi?”, I retort, “Absolutely not!”. What more could be an expression of fun and love?!
I remember one occasion when I played the same trick on an ex-boyfriend where I got a friend to write a card for him and pop it through the door at his university digs. I then gave him my ‘own’ card and pretended I was outraged that he had received an unsolicited card from an unknown admirer. When I eventually told him that it was, in fact, me that had sent it he looked very disappointed – hence why he is an ex!
When I met my husband he was insistent that he would ‘cook’ for our first Valentine’s day at his house. He did not have a dining room table and so set up a wall pasting table, with kitchen roll as a table cloth, to eat off. He was immensely proud of his meal being a starter, melon with nothing else, pasta with pesto from a jar and Vienetta for dessert. Throughout the meal he repeatedly congratulated himself on what a ‘delicious’ meal he had made. He then produced a Valentine card embellished with, “To My Lovely Wife!”. We were not married, had only been dating around 6 weeks but, according to him, they had sold out of all other cards. Clearly there is not much of a market for Valentine cards for wives!
Now I should have run a mile but his efforts amused me and so, instead, I married him and now have two children with him, three cats and four fish! The point being that Valentine’s day should be about fun and love and not insincere gestures of apparent romance.
So, on this Valentine’s day look around you and celebrate all that you ‘love’ that is not romantic but is fundamental to your sense of well-being and self-esteem. Go out and have some fun! By doing so you might find that you learn to embrace the day if you are on your own, or have been let down, rather than dread it.
As a family lawyer, Valentine’s day can be a day to help our clients ‘get through’ instead of celebrate. One of the ways we do this is by reminding them to look around them, see all that remains that they love, and to celebrate that. It may not take all their pain away but it will help to soften the pain a little.