Sunday, February 15, 2009

It all started with a trashy romance

I am a vehement hater of Valentine's Day and have been since well, forever. When I was a nerd it was because .... well, because I was a nerd. When I wasn't a nerd....wait, I've never not been a nerd. Anyway, even when I had a boyfriend in high school Valentine's Day just brought a day full of major suckage and disappointment and usually me screaming at some point that life wasn't fair and I'm pretty sure one or two times I slammed my bedroom door, threw myself face-down on my bed and cried myself to sleep. Drama much? Oh, definitely.

I think it's because I originally started out in this life as a romantic. Yes, really. I thought Anne of Green Gables was the coolest chick to ever sport red hair and would daydream often about living in a cottage and playing in a forest like she did. And Gilbert Blythe? *sigh* I thought he was dreamy and Anne was perfect and I wanted that life. As I got older I still carried my PollyAnna-esque/Green Gable-ish dreams around in a little purse tied with a pink silk ribbon next to my heart. I started reading Harlequins when I was 13 and I think that majorly screwed me the heck up in the romance department. I thought that love was just supposed to be awesome and exciting, followed by some major drama/trauma/tragedy, then neatly and tidily wrapped up into a great big ball of kisses at sunset and perfect hair.

At 16 what I got was a boyfriend who bought me Michael Jackson's Bad tape and a box of chocolates - even though for WEEKS prior to Valentine's Day I had repeatedly and vehemently told him to NOT GET ME A BOX OF CHOCOLATES because 1) it was just too cliche' and 2) at the time I didn't care for chocolates all that much. And Michael Jackson? Seriously? I don't remember asking for it ... and besides, he and I had repeatedly argued over the fact that he said cassette tapes were a dead technology and that I vowed to listen to cassette tapes until Jesus came back, so why did he buy me a cassette? (Okay, so he was right about the dead technology thing and I am now selling my cassettes in a flea market booth for .50 apiece.)

So really around my house Valentine's Day has always been quietly swept under the rug as far as exchanging gifts. We don't make a big deal about it, except that I feel it totally necessary to go COMPLETELY over the top when it comes to my kids' Valentine boxes. I am like a stage mom when it comes to building and creating a recepticle to hold twenty-some slips of paper decorated with Ben10, cute puppies and kittens with word ballons over their heads and Disney Princesses. In years past I have constructed a 2 1/2 foot tall SpongeBob, three mailboxes (covered in aluminum foil, of course) WITH working flags, two robots and a vintage TV set complete with rabbit ears and color bars on the screen. A couple of years the teachers have just had them decorate a white paper sack in class and I nearly freaked out at the bland-ness of it all. Oh yes, a psychiatrist would have a blast analyzing me.

I've always watched in amazement at the number of kids at my kids' school who get flowers, balloons and stuffed animals delivered to their classrooms and often wonder if I am a bad mom for not doing the same. In fact, this year I even asked the kids if it bothered them. Sam shrugged and said "Nah" because he's a dude and dudes don't get pink fluffy bears tied to 49 Mylar balloons delivered to their classroom with a big note that says "LOVE, MOM" and not spend his entire life living that one down. Kady was too busy sorting her Valentines and stuffing mini Snickers bars into her sugared-up face to be bothered with such questions when I asked. Abby, my completely honest and level-headed child, was the one I knew could be counted on for an entirely honest answer. She said, "No way. I hate Valentine's Day just as much as you, dude." And I felt instantly bad for pushing my hatred for Valentine's Day off on my children.

Then I handed her a Harlequin and told her to read up.

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Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...