This is a tough post for me to write because—I’m being honest with you—I don’t like Valentine’s Day.
Before everyone clutches their heart at a romance author not liking Valentine’s Day, I need to defend myself; I used to hate Valentine’s Day. But this isn’t a Valentine’s Day sucks article. Instead, this is the story of how love makes those things you hate better.
My troubled relationship with Valentine’s Day started my sophomore year of high school, when my first boyfriend dumped me on what I had thought was going to be my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend. I had this clever present wrapped and ready to go. He came to my house with a present and a “Dear Jennifer” letter. The next year, my second boyfriend swept me off my feet with a mix-tape (who reading this has gotten mix-tape?), flowers, a teddy bear—the whole nine yards. As he wasn’t yet my boyfriend when he left my present on my doorstep and I was seventeen, I was blown away by the romantic gesture. However, this didn’t change my mind about the holiday. All it did was set a pattern; Valentine’s Day was either perfect, or it sucked.
Can you imagine all my subsequent boyfriends having to live up to the expectations of a seventeen-year-old’s idea of romance (not sure what that is?—go reread Twilight and despair with every boyfriend I’ve ever had)? Eventually I gave up on the holiday and settled into the February version of the Grinch. I accepted no gifts, wrinkled my nose at the color red, and refused any dinner reservation that involved pantyhose.
Fast forward to marriage. I cook dinner most nights so the roast chicken I was making on February 14th wasn’t a big deal. After we ate, my husband put in a Simpsons DVD and cued up episode 74, “I love Lisa.” For people who can’t quote a Simpsons line for every occasion, in this episode, Lisa gives Ralph Wiggum a Valentine’s Day card out of pity. Ralph understands the card to mean Lisa is now his girlfriend. Hilarity ensues.
My husband broke the pattern by setting a new one. This new tradition doesn’t rely on a teenager’s understanding of romance. Instead, my husband and I make time to do what we love—and that is spend time together with a good meal and Simpsons episode 74. And I look forward to February 14th every year. Just don’t call it Valentine’s Day.
What about you? What is your perfect Valentine’s Day?
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Jennifer Lohmann is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart, having grown up in southern Idaho and Salt Lake City. After graduating with a degree in Economics from the University of Chicago, she moved to Shanghai to teach English. Back in the United States, she earned a Master’s in Library Science and now works as a public librarian. She was the Romance Writers of America librarian of the year in 2010. She and her husband live in the Southeast with a dog, two chickens, and four cats. Her debut novel, Reservations for Two, is now available. Her second book, The First Move, comes out in April, 2013.