February 14th is approaching and the TV is filled with the usual adverts for Valentine’s-related tat. But there is a difference this year – deference is shown to the credit crunch. There is a sharp trend towards cut-price items. Sainsbury’s, for example, is running ads for cheap cava and Thornton’s chocolates for a tenner, while M&S, Tesco and Waitrose are all battling it out in the Valentine’s meal deal stakes. Even my local pub is pushing a special three course meal for two for £14.
For a while during my 20s I believed Valentine’s was – at least in part – about receiving a bouquet delivered to your workplace, so it was clear to everyone how much your partner worshipped you. For some reason I was convinced that if s/he didn’t do this then s/he didn’t really love you. How shallow! I must have been extraordinarily dense and insecure. I did receive a dozen red roses once but only after dropping blatant hints, and the gentleman in question and I parted ways soon after, so it was hardly a display of true love! Looking back I am appalled at myself, even though I did send him presents too.
Some people boycott Valentine’s Day altogether and I can see why. Comedian Richard Herring started St Skeletor’s Day a few years ago, which is held on 15th February each year. It’s a bit of a joke really, but the message behind it is a serious one. It criticises the blatant consumerism of Valentine’s Day, the pressure many people feel to spend out on expensive gifts for their loved ones and calls for the ‘destruction of luurve and saucy greeting cards’.
Should the aspiring frugalist follow suit and kick Valentine’s into touch? DJ and I still celebrate it. We always exchange cards – I think I made him an appalling one last year from a piece of sketch book paper, coloured in with colouring pencils. But on principle he never buys me flowers for Valentine’s. He insists he dislikes all the commercialism, as well as paying ridiculous sums for flowers that are cheaper the rest of the year. For once I believe him. He’s a romantic but also a stubborn sort who hates being told what to do, whether by yours truly or the commercial Valentine’s machine, and I have learned to respect this.
We never go out on 14th February either. In the past I have ventured out and found the restaurants crowded, the tables too close together and the service slow. So instead DJ cooks a romantic dinner at home, and occasionally we go out for a meal out a week or so later which feels more romantic.
When you’re single, Valentine’s can be a drag – smooching couples seem to be everywhere exchanging lavish gifts and sickeningly showy displays of affection. I used to dread it all when I was a singleton, although at least I could rely on good old Dad to send me an ‘anonymous’ card. I remember getting very excited when I was a teenager and Dad insisted a florist’s van had delivered a single orchid for me while I was at school. I swallowed his story hook, line and sinker, wondering who the admirer could be. Of course it dawned on me later that it was Mum & Dad who’d bought the orchid, not a mystery suitor. At first I was a bit disappointed, but then I realised it was a kind thing to do and the fact it was from my parents meant more than if it had been from some creepy school boy!
Will you be defying the credit crunch and celebrating Valentine’s Day in style? Or are you a devotee of St Skeletor’s Day?
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