The last time I celebrated Valentine’s Day was 10 years ago. It ended with our oven on fire, a burnt breading pudding, and foam from a fire extinguisher all over our first kitchen. It was our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple and was the only one we ever acknowledged as a holiday. Of course, “bread pudding oven fire” is not the reason we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, but we reached the decision to shun the holiday while cleaning up the mess made by the infamous event.
I never liked Valentine’s Day. My college roomie still mocks me to this day for my insistence on wearing all black on a Valentine’s Day 20 years ago. When I fell in love with my husband, I decided to loosen my stance. It was with the best of intentions of showing him how much I love him that I decided to attempt to bake a bread pudding. It was not a total loss as our friends found the story hilarious.
I do think that Valentine’s Day was created for commercial reasons and I do not see the need to create a holiday that encourages people to spend money to prove their love. Jag and I have other occasions where we can exchange gifts, like our anniversary, Christmas and birthdays. I told Jag early on that he could forget ever receiving a present from me on February 14 and I told him I was perfectly happy never receiving a gift from him. Restaurants tend to be crowded on that day or the closest weekend, which makes them decidedly less romantic. Restaurants also play to the commercialism by offering special, marked-up, fixed menus for those couple that simply must celebrate their love by eating out on one particular day.
In our marriage, Jag and I strive to express our love and respect for one another regularly. I understand the idea that often married couples do not do this frequently enough and Valentine’s Day is a reminder to step up your marriage maintenance. We do this on our anniversary in April. We have an anniversary book where we write down highs and lows of our year, as well as romantic moments we shared. Jag tries to bring me little surprises randomly, like flowers bought while grocery shopping or a favorite treat. I try to do the same thing, surprising him with a favorite food, as long as it is not bread pudding.
Military life has only reinforced the idea of shunning Valentine’s Day. Jag has missed countless holidays and birthdays. If I do not celebrate a holiday, then I have no reason to be sad when he is TDY on Valentine’s Day.