Last year my father brought my flowers for Valentine’s Day. I don’t remember what they were, I probably didn’t really even know. I’m not much of a flowers girl. I mean, you know whatever. They’re pretty but they die (faster with me than with other people) and it seems like a bit of a waste of money. This would never have occurred to my father. In fact, I suspect that buying me flowers was trying to make some kind of a statement. He had never done it before, every year before that it had been chocolate or a small stuffed animal of some kind. My mother got flowers. Maybe it was intended to say something. Or who knows, maybe they were just having a sale on the flowers.
Most of my friends do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. They talk about how highly commercialized it is and ask things like why do you need a prescribed day on the calendar to tell someone that you care about them? These are totally valid points of view, they’ve just never rung particularly true for me. Commercialization has rarely bothered me that much. Maybe it’s just remnants of growing up the way I did but although I’ll occasionally roll my eyes at certain things, for the most part I just don’t pay much attention. And of course I’m a big believer in telling the people you love that you love them all the time, any day of the year and I totally try to do that. But I’m also a really big fan of presents and excuses to buy presents and dumb reasons to insert chocolate into your day to day life. Not that I think one necessarily needs a reason but I enjoy having one.
I don’t remember when my parents first started buying us Valentine’s Day gifts. It’s been going on as long as I can remember. It was a notable holiday because it was the only time that my mother and father got us separate things. It wasn’t like they were big things; a lot of years they were just two different bags of chocolate, but still I knew that my dad had gone and picked out that bag of chocolate, which he never did with anything else. At some point when my brothers were teenagers my father explained to them that they would no longer be getting presents from him because apparently it wasn’t “appropriate.” You know how dangerous it can be, buying your teenage sons chocolate to tell them you love them on Valentine’s Day. People might look askance. Nonetheless, I still got presents from both of them. It was around that time that he started getting me small stuffed animals instead, slightly different things. They were no less stereotypical. I don’t think it would ever once have crossed my father’s mind that he could look for a present that would actually have meaning to me. If it had I suspect he wouldn’t have had the first clue where to begin. But the last stuffed animal he got me I kept until my dog found it and chewed it up. It was just a cheap, crappy little teddy bear but I knew he had gone out and gotten it, even though he hated shopping, even though he hated the whole thing. It was his attempt to say he loved me. Even those damn flowers from last year, less then a month before I stopped speaking to them for good, went into a vase and stayed there till there was basically nothing left.
So you know. I’m not particularly sad today about my lack of significant significant other. Valentine’s Day has never been about that to me. Looking back on what it has been about it all seems pretty empty and sad and like a pretense that I can’t believe we all kept up so long. Truthfully that makes me sad in a whole different way. Me playing loving daughter, him playing loving father. Buying the things girls are supposed to like, me keeping all of the things as if I could give them the meaning I wanted them to have by sheer force of will. Nothing works out like you think it will. And this year I don’t even have chocolate.