No sooner have we sobered up from the holidays, vacuumed up the last of the pine needles and gotten our daily chocolate intake under control than we start to be relentlessly reminded that Every Kiss Begins With Kay and also that It Can Only Be Jared. Oh, Valentine’s Day, you tricky b*&^%!
Valentine’s Day is such a tough holiday to grasp, emotionally. It’s so nakedly a made-up consumerist event, the collateral damage of which is to make single people (women) feel bad about themselves and married people (men) feel inadequate if they don’t present their adoring partners with a brand-new, bow-bearing Audi.
As dumb and eye-roll-y as most women find the day, if you get nothing – or, as happened to me last year, if your husband makes plans on Valentine’s Day evening to “grab a drink” with a colleague without understanding in the least why that was strange – it’s still hard to shake the feeling of disappointment, and then the subsequent “I hate myself for caring” spiral.
(No? Just me??)
On the other hand, let’s say my husband was to to present me on Valentine’s Day with a surprise pair of plane tickets to Paris, departing that evening. Would I be overjoyed? Dazzled? Overcome with lust and passion?
The romantic gesture would be lost on me as I’d be consumed by WHO WILL STAY WITH THE CHILDREN HOW WILL THEY GET TO SCHOOL WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW’S PLAYDATE AND FRIDAY’S DENTIST APPOINTMENT AND SWIM PRACTICE AND IT’S SHOW-AND-TELL AT PRESCHOOL WHO WILL HELP REMEMBER AND ALSO DID YOU NOT SEE ON THE CALENDAR THAT I HAVE THREE MEETINGS AND TWO CONFERENCE CALLS THAT I CANNOT MISS zzzzzzzzztttt [sound of brain exploding, especially when combined with the subsequent “I hate myself for being so ungrateful” spiral.]
(No? Seriously just me??????)
So Valentine’s Day really is a pickle, especially for men — who rightly or wrongly bear most give-giving responsibility. But fear not. In service of the Y chromosome, I have taken it upon myself to help husbands avoid the pitfalls of under- or over-delivering. Here’s a list of realistic yet profoundly romantic gifts they can – nay, should! – get you this Valentine’s Day.
- A trail of rose petals leading outside and down to the recycling bin, where he has not only taken but BROKEN. DOWN! every single Amazon box from the previous week.
- Written on a giant red doily, the names/ email addresses/ phone numbers of three babysitters, all of whom are available during both days and evenings. Each has been vetted by at least two mutual friends, has her own car, deigns to do dishes, and makes zero demands related to gluten.
- Nestled inside a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a coupon/IOU to clean out the family car once a week, without being asked, nor as the result of unwittingly picking a fight by suggesting “we” “do something” about “all those crumbs.”
- A hand-written letter on fancy paper expressing gratitude for managing the family holiday card production each year. It will include phrases like “I recognize how much work it is to get a family photo in which no one is crying or yelling or thinking about divorce,” and “I really admire that given how much else you have on your plate you still remember to buy hundreds of holiday-themed stamps before they’re all sold out at the post office and the only remaining stamps are explicitly religious, but not the religion we practice,” and “I really appreciate you keeping track of my weird cousin’s new address in Spain and figuring out the first names of all my colleagues’ spouses.”
- Wrapped in a beautiful pink-and-gold box, a promise to go one whole calendar month without uttering the words “I’m tired.”
Now excuse me while I anonymously deliver this list to my husband.