Grinchin’ with Grace

Valentine’s Day always makes me a little uneasy. I’m all for love, and for appreciating the people we love, but Valentine’s Day focuses the celebration on one aspect of adult(ish) relationships–the bonded or bonding-in-progress romance.

For some who’ve lost a spouse, I imagine this day is the hardest of the year. For people recently dumped from a long-term relationship, Valentine’s Day is also no fun. For school children, I wonder if it’s still the same puzzling exercise it was for me.

Each child at Our Lady of Perpetual Anxiety (I’m Catholicizing here) was required to walk up and down the rows of desks and leave a Valentine on the desk of every other child in the class. Our moms had to buy the packets of ready-made Valentines, and we stayed up the night before addressing the cards. Some of the Valentines I received were thus from children who refused to allow me to sit at their lunch tables and referred to me as “it.”

Happy Valentine’s Day?

Why, from elementary school on up, do we give this one aspect of some people’s social life a Hallmark nod? Intimate relationships can help us become our best selves (somebody should write a book about that), but intimate relationships can also be lethal, toxic, financially disastrous… Half of all marriages are still ending in divorce, and many of those not ending are miserable.

What is this holiday trying to say?

What does making an international occasion of Valentine’s Day say to a lonely heart? To the one in four women (and one in ten men) experiencing intimate partner violence? I dunno, friends… I would gladly give you back Valentine’s Day for some universal family/personal wellness leave. I’d give you back Valentine’s Day for a drop in domestic violence statistics. I’d give you back Valentine’s Day for a commitment across the chocolate industry to use sustainably sourced, fair trade cocoa.

But then I took a look at this page from the National Retail Federation, where (scroll down) it breaks down the estimated $22 billion Americans will spend on Valentine’s Day into categories. Only half that sum is likely to be spent on partners. The rest is spread over friends, relatives, pets (about $1.3 billion!), co-workers, and others. I’d still like to see the name of the day changed, maybe to Care About Each Other Day, but it appears we’re prying the holiday free of its historical pair-bonded roots, and I hope that’s a good thing.

Where does Valentine’s Day leave you? Is there a holiday you’d like to see added? A time of year that needs another day off? I’m in the process of drafting a Christmas novella for the Rogues to Riches series. One commenter will get to name the Viking kitten who has taken up residence in Pietr Sorensen’s vicarage. We can’t use Loki, because Nathaniel Rothmere’s horse has that moniker…

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16 comments on “Grinchin’ with Grace

  1. 1
    Teenie Marie says:

    I was never a big fan of V-Day. In Grade School, I felt left out even if I got tons of cards. In High School, there was a Red and White Winter Formal(those were our school’s colors, clever, wasn’t it? And my kids HS also had a Red and White Winter Formal, also their colors….sigh). I never went and the year I was a junior (and there was a Feb. 29), there was a Sadie Hawkins Dance, where the girls asked the boys–but nope, didn’t go to that either! 🙁

    In college, I had a long term BF who would break up with me the week before, and get back together the week after—for THREE YEARS! It wasn’t until my senior year of college and I met my spouse that I ever felt I *celebrated* the holiday. He bought me a large decorated Valentine cookie, which I kept in my purse for 2 years—in fact, when I was in the hospital after giving birth to our first son, I realized it was STILL IN MY PURSE! It meant a lot to me–my first REAL Valentine!

    We give each other little things, occasionally Hubby will give me a heart locket or something like that and this year he gave me roses early, but nothing big. I give our sons chocolate and a card, but only if they’re not in a relationship. Last year, Son #2 was, this year he’s not so he got some chocolate. I feel everyone should get SOMETHING from someone they love for V-Day.

    Mostly, V-Day is meh if you’re not in a relationship but if you are, it can be great or a landmine of expectations. Don’t expect a lot and you won’t be disappointed!

  2. 2
    Marianne says:

    Male, female or gender neutral kitten?

  3. 3
    Susan G says:

    My husband has always remembered me and our daughter for Valentine’s Day. I don’t think he “got it” until my daughter planned a special dinner for me on Valentines. Think paper plates, pizza , soft drinks and heart shaped cookies. It was the best!

    We don’t have a big celebration- flowers, a card. This year I got roses, a punny card, milanos and a bottle of wine. I ordered the mister lobster bisque and scallops- he appreciates dinner.

    I think it’s nice to be remembered. Some times a thank you means a lot.

    Our company just gave us back a few holidays..I have Monday off.
    And it’s a blessing to have a day off in February…the month of snow.

  4. 4
    Make Kay says:

    Yup, I’m with you. This is another holiday firmly entrenched in crass commercialism. And why the hell did the card stores add Sweetest Day too?! *rolls eyes violently*
    Even when I had a boyfriend, I spent years with my girlfriends dressing in all black to protest the ridiculousness of Valentine’s Day.
    Today, hubby and I will celebrate the day with a nice home cooked meal and a slightly nicer then usual bottle of wine, but it’s no big deal to either of us, thank goodness. No gifts, no fuss.

  5. 5
    Beth says:

    I LOATHE this day. Grrrr! It reminds me of the initial red flags regarding my not lamented ex. ‘Nuff said. Blech!

    I love the notion of a Viking kitty. Can’t wait.

  6. 6
    KarenM6 says:

    For Make Kay: I don’t know what “Sweetest Day” is, but I roll my eyes in solidarity!

    I am ambivalent about Valentine’s Day. And, I am up for renaming it!!!!!
    I was never made to give Valentine’s cards to _all_ my classmates… we were allowed to choose who we would give them to… but, that was almost worse because I only ever got them from a close friend or two. Boys ignored me and I never figured out why. Then, in high school, they would sell flowers that were given to the recipient during class (but not by the person who bought the flower)… I never got one of those, either.

    I am in a relationship that has been confusing and unfulfilling for decades. BUT, I am not physically abused, so, for that, I am grateful. Spousal abuse is awful.

    Romantic love and the celebration of it is… hmmm… it can be difficult, but I have learned to accept lack. There need to be more Valentine’s Day cards that are less “I still love you after all these years”… choosing a card is just a torture.

    I want a Viking Kitty!!! 😀 I’m pretty sure I have a couple boy Viking kitties right now. They are warriors and the mousie toys and balled up pieces of scrap paper never stand a chance against them.
    Yes, boy or girl? what’s her or his personality?!!!
    How absolutely fun to be able to name a character. (For a girl kitty I might choose Frode for “wise and clever”…) This will be so fun and I am excited for the person who gets to choose.
    Is Pietr getting his own HEA?! I hope so. 😀
    I am reading the Rogues to Riches right now, so this post is hitting all the right spots for me. 😀

    I can’t think of any other holidays, that are fraught with emotional issues.

    As an adult, I’ve not understood how we transitioned Easter into a bunnies and chocolate holiday. (I halfway think Grace did a post on this… maybe?) I don’t need the bunnies and duckies and chocolate to go away, but certainly could use some insight there.

  7. 7
    Sue says:

    Hi All – I am not any more upset about Valentine’s Day than I am about St. Patrick’s Day. I always thought the valentine ritual in elementary school was an exercise in remembering it is not ok to exclude people. I got very serious over who got which goofy little card, favoring my friends with the ones I like best. I never got to give out the ones with candy included, but I sure loved to get them. My girls brought home cards they made in school which were so precious and have kept some of them. I don’t have anything equivalent from my ex or from any other fellow I dated. On St. Patrick’s day I am Irish. I always make sure I have green on me somewhere. So silly. Grace, your website reads “I believe in love.” My experiences are a downer so I will skip a recitation, but I like your books Grace and look forward to reading them. I confess I don’t believe in HOA, but I still like that it exists in the fictional world.

    As for Hallmark Holidays, I think they are rather obvious and are a silly game as I said before. I don’t mind silly games on the whole and try to find a fun way to participate. I found a couple of hilarious E cards and sent to as many friends with a note that I was grateful for them. So the cartoon kitty walks in and drops a dead mouse as a gift. I hope I get to name the kitty!

  8. 8
    Cate Wright says:

    I love your books and hate Valentine’s day. It has been commercialized so much. We have so many people to love in our lives

  9. 9
    Martha E Champion says:

    I liked Valentines Day- not a big holiday in my house but a nice one. I always waited to see what the girls would give my big brother (Sr class Vice President, Ski Champion, 6 foot blonde, etc) cause I always was given some of the loot. Dad brought home roses and Chocolates for Mom and we ate them (after checking out the bottom with our fingernails). After marrying it was not recognized until the kids showed up and them I bought them the candy hearts. Possibly part of why he is my Ex (actually part of the pattern). Now My birthday and anniversary are Big deals and I’m fine with that.
    I’d love to name the kitten – have a great name picked.

  10. 10
    Pam says:

    For a name for the kitten, I’ll go with the Viking name for cat – kotr. It seems like a name a guy might give a stray kitten, unless he is already a cat lover.

    There are supposed to be two dots over the ‘o’.

    • 10.1
      Pam says:

      ETA I forgot it was Valentine’s day. The Chinese place is closed so my son is going to pick up burgers for him and my husband. Food is always appreciated at our house.

  11. 11
    Claudia says:

    I grew up in a country where Valentine’s Day was not celebrated., and I have always scoffed at the commercial aspect of this holiday…. Even after living here for many years, I really never thought twice about this day until my son started school; then I was somewhat moved to make sure he exchanged cards with his friends. It is part of living here, as much as I don’t necessarily agree that there is a need to have a day penciled in the calendar to show others how much you care for them. To me, this day is meant to celebrate my love for all the people I truly care about, not just my significant other, but my son, friends and extended family. It is also meant to remember loved ones who have gone. It is not about the gifts or the flowers or the cards, those are nice but are nothing compared to a hug. I realized I am luckier than many: even when most of my family is very far from here, they are just a click away… For those who are feeling lonely today I am sending you my warm regards ❤️

  12. 12
    Sarah says:

    There are several holidays I would like to see removed from the calendar, or at least toned down. But what would I like to see added? I would love every Tuesday to contain celebratory behavior, wouldn’t that be something to look forward to? Whatever is your own favorite holiday schtick. Could be champagne, special greetings, a great meal etc. Could even be a self-care ritual like a long bath, extra quiet time, extra social time etc. It’d be even better as a paid holiday!

  13. 13
    SaraJoan says:

    A cousin who had studied there during college taught me that in Mexico, Valentine’s Day is officially titled El Día del Amor y la Amistad — The Day of Love and Friendship. That’s rather how I was raised to think about it.

    Yes, our dad often bought our mother flowers for Valentine’s Day, but Mom and Dad also made a fuss about all of us kids, cooking favorite foods or desserts, getting us cards or little gifts, as did our granparents. I’ve been forever grateful that no matter what the US culture as a whole might be trying to focus on, for our family it was a day to be grateful for ALL the love in our lives (not just the romantic and/or sexual variety).