Heart, Flowers and Twinkies.

By Lisa Van Meeteren

A one word definition of Valentine’s Day would probably be love. But I can honestly say my one word definition of the day hasn’t always included that word. Read on to see if you relate!

Valentine’s definition: popularity. Valentine’s Day in my childhood taught me that people showed they liked you by giving you cards and candies. I also learned that it felt good to be popular and score loads of cards and it felt crappy to score less cards then the Julianne Hough look-a-like sitting next to you. I learned to pretend I didn’t mind scoring less with the help of a fake smile and a Twinkie.

The Teen Years
Valentine’s definition: humiliation. I learned that my mother didn’t mean to humiliate me by being the only one to give me a card. That it didn’t matter that my crush didn’t know I existed. It was all okay, because I could watch a movie with my best friend and ooh and ahh at the hot actor on screen and escape into a marshmallow world.

Dating: Early twenties
Valentine’s definition: evaluation. I often used Valentine’s Day to take stock of my relationships using the day as a measurement of how much someone loved and respected me. At the time I thought it was a good test. Here’s an example.

I had a boyfriend who never took the initiative when it came to making plans. I mean NEVER. At first I thought it was because he was being considerate when he said, whatever and shrugged if I asked him what he wanted to do. He let me plan all of our dates, how nice! Wait a minute. Fast forward two months later and I was getting fed up. Didn’t he care enough to make an effort?

When I asked him what he wanted to do for Valentine’s and he was unresponsive, I figured our relationship needed CPR, stat! I told him he was going to plan our date, which I knew would be challenging given the nature of the day, but assured him that it was the thought that mattered. As the day grew closer I kept asking him if he had planned anything and he said he had it covered.

I began to get excited as the night drew near. Would he cook me dinner? Were we going to go dancing which I loved?

The first surprise came when he told me we were leaving at 4:30 in the afternoon. What did he have planned that started so early? My curiousity was definitely piqued. He led me down King Street in Toronto’s theatre district and we entered a restaurant popular with the theatre crowd because of their quick service. I got excited. I loved the theatre. Maybe we were having a quick bite before going to see a show across the street. That would explain why we were dining at the same time as most Floridians.
We sat down and he smiled at me taking my hand across the table. “So,” I said. “I’ve never been here is the food good?”

He shrugged. “It’s a good deal. That’s one of the reasons I picked this place. Half price apps between 5 and 6.”

If I’d been eating I would have choked. “Pardon?”

“Well they have some Valentine’s Day dinner going on but the tickets are like a major rip-off. The first seating starts at 6:30 and they said we couldn’t have dinner but that we could enjoy half price appetizers until 6. Good, right?”

I tried to keep an open mind. It was ridiculous the way they crammed people in like cattle and then overcharged them for food by adding a few heart shaped decorations, champagne and flowers. Plus this was only the beginning of the evening, maybe the romantic part of his plan was to follow. After our appetizers, as he forked over his twenty and I thanked him, he smiled. “You’re welcome. So. Now what do you want to do?”

I began to have that sinking feeling that I get when I know a relationship is about to end.

“Excuse me?”

He looked at his watch. “It’s before six, so it’s still early. What do you want to do now?”

“Uh, you were supposed to plan the evening remember?”

His eyes widened. “I did.”

“The whole evening.” He just shrugged.

We ended up going to a store (pre- Smart phones) to get a paper (my idea) to look up the entertainment listings and I angrily chose a Mel Gibson movie because I loved him… (pre-crazy, and totally hot Mel) which at least made me feel like I got something out of the evening. That was our last Valentine’s together.

Now: Married with Children
Valentine’s definition: enjoyable. I am happy to have any time alone with my husband-it doesn’t have to be at a fancy restaurant. I enjoy making heart shaped pizzas with the kids and decorating for them. And while I wouldn’t be offended if my husband gave me a piece of jewellery or flowers to show how he feels about me, I think that it would mean more on another day when he isn’t pressured to do so.
I’m happy now that I have someone special in my life but I wish that I had recognized that I really had it all along; through my mother and my best friend.

Valentine’s Day is about love, an opportunity to show those you care about, that you care, romantic or otherwise. So to all of you singles, hey, I’ve been there. And while I can assure you it is lovely to have a romantic dinner with a significant other, it is sometimes just as lovely to watch Bridget Jones with a large bowl of M&M’s with a BFF and a glass of wine. And yes, I’ve done that too.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

How do you feel about the romantic holiday? Do you embrace it, loathe it or love it and why?


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