Well, here we are, only a handful of days from Hallmark’s favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day, and couples everywhere are planning to go out to some fancy restaurant, spend gobs of money on gifts for their loved ones, and tell each other how much they love each other.
And here in the Thompson household, it’s just another day. We’re not haters or anything. We just don’t care about Valentine’s Day. (Seriously, my husband lucked out with me.) Maybe I’m a little bitter from all those Valentine’s Days of my youth, or maybe it’s because I just think it’s ridiculous to spend money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need to tell someone you love them, when you should be telling them you love them every single day.
Our celebration of Valentine’s Day has gone through seasons, but the past several years, we haven’t acknowledged it. If you’re feeling like it’s not for you, no worries. Here is Why We Skip Valentine’s Day (And What We Do Instead).
I remember being a teenager in high school on Valentine’s Day, sitting anxiously in my desk during the last class period, waiting for the afternoon announcements. This was when the principal would start calling people to the office to pick up balloon bouquets, flowers, stuffed animals and chocolates that had been delivered to the school throughout the day.
I was what you might call a “late bloomer”. Ok, I was a nerd. And I didn’t care that I was a nerd, because while I was maintaining straight A’s in school and enjoying learning, other girls were getting not-so-great grades and spending all their time tongue-deep in the mouth of the jock-of-the-week. #nothankyouverymuch
I remember, however, Valentine’s Day of my senior year. Every year the list would be called and my name was never on it, but this particular year, I made the list! It couldn’t have been my boyfriend because I didn’t have one, so I hurriedly gathered my belongings, rushed to the front office, and picked up a huge balloon bouquet and cute teddy bear just for me!
Turned out to be from my dad, and I was just ecstatic to get anything at all from anyone!
As I got older and started dating, Valentine’s Day became that thing we made a big deal about – you know, dinner, flowers, the works.
But when Valentine’s Day was over, we went right back to being our usual selves, chocolates were eaten, flowers died, and teddy bears were eventually forgotten.
Now here I am, 37 years old, 8 years into my second marriage (very happily, I might add), and Valentine’s Day quite literally means absolutely nothing to me. And my husband and I are both perfectly fine not celebrating.
WHY WE SKIP VALENTINE’S DAY
There is a lot of truth in the bible verse, “To everything there is a season…” (No, the Beatles didn’t coin that phrase, God did. Ecclesiastes 3:1)
When I was in high school, Valentine’s Day was a very big deal. Carrying a bouquet of flowers down the hall from your boyfriend was a badge of honor.
When I became a mom, Valentine’s Day was a big deal again because it meant that I got to spoil my daughter Marley with all kinds of cute goodies and we would make cute Valentine’s for her friends at school.
Now that Marley is almost 14, she doesn’t care about Valentine’s Day anymore, nor do my husband Mark & I. It’s honestly just another day.
We never sat down and had a conversation about not celebrating Valentine’s Day…it just kind of went away. That would be weird, right?
“Family meeting, y’all! So, here’s the deal: we’re not going to celebrate Valentine’s Day anymore, ok?” – Me
“Ok, but why?” – Marley
“Because it’s a made up holiday by Hallmark to make them a ton of money only 2 months after Christmas when people still haven’t paid off what they bought in December, and restaurants are crowded, and it’s just dumb. Got it?” – Mark
“Yea, got it.” – Marley
Yea, that didn’t happen. We’re in a different season of our lives right now and it’s not a priority. We enjoy being home together as a family. We enjoy not spending a ton of money just because the calendar tells us it’s time to spend money. Other things in our lives have taken precedence over this holiday, and we’re OK with that.
And to be perfectly honest, we sincerely tell each other how much we love one another every single day. Valentine’s Day doesn’t make us love or appreciate one another any more than any other day.
WHAT WE DO INSTEAD
My husband Mark and I have a mutual understanding when it comes to buying things for one another: we just don’t. I know that sounds weird, but we rarely give one another physical gifts. Now before you start thinking we’re heartless individuals who just happened to marry one another, let me explain:
WE GIVE GIFTS THAT MEAN SOMETHING
No one in my family likes giving or receiving gifts out of obligation. Just because Hallmark declares February 14th to be the day to give a gift to someone you love shouldn’t obligate us to spend money on some gift that the receiver doesn’t want or need.
Instead, the physical gifts we do occasionally give to one another have significance. The Christmas before Mark and I got married, we skipped the gifts to help pay for the wedding, but we stopped into a music store just to browse. I remember Mark picking up a beautiful Takamine 12-string guitar and strumming it for a while. He made several remarks about how beautiful the sound was and how he’d always wanted a 12-string, but he never once mentioned wanting that guitar because he knew I’d find a way to buy it, even though we were broke.
Fast forward four months later to our wedding reception. Mark and his friends gathered around the pool to play music and sing, and instead of finding his usual guitar in the case, he was surprised to see the 12-string Takamine in it’s place. I had put the guitar on layaway and given it to him as a wedding gift.
That guitar is still his favorite and hangs proudly in our living room so he can play it any time he gets the urge.
WE GIVE GIFTS OF QUALITY TIME
We love experiencing things together, and both my husband and I are avid sports fan. (I told you he lucked out with me.) For bigger gift-giving occasions like Christmas and birthdays, we tend to discuss our gifts ahead of time and plan a fun experience together.
My husband is from Michigan, and he’s the biggest Michigan Wolverine fan you’ll ever meet. But when we were dating, I learned that he had never witnessed a football game at The Big House. I saved every penny of my bartending tips until I was able to buy two tickets to the Michigan v. Purdue game in October that year and gave the tickets to him for his birthday in June.
He must have loved that gift, because he proposed to me while we were in Michigan for the game. (And to be honest, I’m the lucky one.)
For Christmas this year, we took an overnight trip to Detroit to see the Red Wings play hockey at The Joe Louis Arena, another first for us both.
These experiences mean so much more to us than any chocolates ever could, and the memories last longer than a bouquet of flowers.
WE MAKE NORMAL DAYS EXTRA SPECIAL
We make time together a priority, regardless of the holiday on the calendar. My daughter and I have mom-daughter days regularly, which has become so special to me now that she’s a teenager. I’m so grateful that she still enjoys spending time with me, and in public no less!
Mark and I go on dates quite often. As a matter of fact, for Christmas in 2014, I gave Mark a box of 12 monthly dates, and on the first day of each month, Mark acted like a toddler dying to open a piece of candy when he got to see what the next date was going to be.
We celebrate big days like birthdays and Christmas, but Valentine’s Day just doesn’t work for us. We know this isn’t a popular opinion of such a beloved holiday, but it works for our family in this season of our lives.
I will admit, though, the Valentine’s Day crafts are super cute, and I’ll never turn down a delicious piece of chocolate!
Does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day? If not, what do you do instead?