Before I met my husband, I looked at Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark-sponsored money grab. In fact, I railed against it. While my friends invested heavily in the cringe—gifting their romantic partners boxes of chocolates or stuffed bears with heart eyes—I went out of my way to do the opposite, never spending a dime on the schmaltz.
No, this wasn’t related to the fact that I wasn’t in a relationship (I was at various times that overlapped with the holiday), I’ve just always loathed the disingenuous nature of Valentine’s Day gestures. Instead of it feeling like a day inspired by love, it felt like a day inspired by materialism—and cheap (and cheesy) crap that had but a single destiny: the garbage pail.
Then, I met my spouse. I’ll never forget the moment during our early dating days when he revealed that his favorite holiday was, gasp, Valentine’s Day. His reasoning: What’s not to love about a day that is all about, well, love? Of course he didn’t think we should only express love one day a year, but in his opinion, February 14 was a chance to demonstrate to people (a romantic partner, a sibling, your kids) what they mean to you in a way that—if you embrace it—feels grand and over the top.
I wasn’t convinced. I still thought of Valentine’s Day as forced romance. I couldn’t see past the merch and dollar signs.