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Love-Themed Consumerism

Does that title seem too negative? I sure hope not. It’s just that I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. I believe it is nothing more than a day when the candy, flower, greeting card, and tacky stuffed animal industries all conspire together to hike up the price of their products 500% and tell us all that we are thoughtless should we choose to not purchase them. Because, my fellow Americans, there is no greater symbol of love and affection than a bag full of stale, heart-shaped antacids that has been on a display shelf at Target since the day after Christmas.

Actually, I believe comedian Jim Gaffigan said it best:

“I know I make you nauseous. Here’s a TUMS with ‘hug me’ written on it.”

Is there a person over the age of 7 who can eat those Conversation Hearts without dry heaving? I don’t want to meet that person. That’s probably a bit extreme. Let’s just say I wouldn’t seriously consider a restaurant recommendation from that person.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve this torturous day called Valentine’s Day. I generally spent that holiday (and many others) watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood from my parents’ bed because I got so excited about the gift-and-sugar-filled parties at school that I made myself physically ill.

True story. 

But by the fifth grade I was able to pull myself together enough to attend the classroom party. As I recall there were several cute boys in my class who would have made my day with a personalized Garfield card and/or a 4-foot, stuffed chimpanzee with a bowtie. I watched as Hayley, Dana, Wendy, and all the other beautiful, un-permed girls in my class collected gift after gift from these eligible bachelors. Their homemade mailboxes were filled with heartfelt, commercialized affections while mine sat half-full of generic greetings from my teacher, her aide, and a few other kids’ parents.

But much to my surprise, I did receive one special gift that Valentine’s Day in 5th grade that outshone all the rest—literally. It was given to me by a boy in my class who was, for lack of a better term, forgettable. He wasn’t one of the smart kids or the cool kids or the funny kids. Nor was he the “bad boy” in the class that I had a crush on the entire year. He was the kid you would look at in the classroom photo years later and wonder, “Who was that kid? Was he even in our class?”

I’m certain that I wasn’t interested in a long-term relationship with this boy. What I mean is that I wasn’t ready to hold hands with him in the cinderblock hallway on the way back from the Macintosh computer lab when the teacher wasn’t looking. I wasn’t ready for that kind of a serious commitment. Still, I was thrilled when he handed me an unmarked, unwrapped jewelry box that memorable Valentine’s Day.

Inside was—I’ll never forget it—a gorgeous 14-karat gold herringbone chain necklace. It was a thick chain, too. Like the ones my Aunt Beth and MC Hammer used to wear. It was beautiful. It was expensive. Never mind that it looked a bit…worn. I didn’t care. I got a real gold Valentine. From a boy. And I was ecstatic.

I don’t recall the exact details of how the rest of that day unfolded, but I do know that my mom got a phone call later that evening that completely tarnished (pun intended) what was an otherwise wonderful day. The caller (probably my teacher) informed my mother that I was in possession of stolen goods. In other words this 10-year-old boy stole a solid gold necklace from his own mother and gave it to me as a token of his undying affection.

Ain’t love grand?

And before I give you all the impression that we should collectively pity 5th grade Katy, I will say that I spent that entire year breaking up and getting back together with a different boy in my class because he used to pay me to “go out” with him. He paid me money. Real money, people. To say I was his girlfriend. Money that I kept and used to buy obscene amounts of candy.

So, let’s recap:  On our national day of love in 1992, a budding felon gave stolen goods to a frizzy-haired extortionist with purple glasses who had a crush on the “bad boy” in her class who later became a cop.

Oh, the irony.

So, on this day of extortion, price gouging, and overall romantic disappointment, it only seemed fitting that our babysitter was’t available to watch our kids. Which is a shame because I soooooo wanted to have an evening filled with miles of traffic, a long wait at an overpriced restaurant, and a pink carnation from the restaurant’s hostess. I would have loved to squeeze myself into an unflattering maternity dress, a belly support strap, and my best pair of uncomfortable heels. Nothing would have pleased me more than to have Brian drop me off at Target on the way to dinner because I forgot to buy him a card and then for me to hide in the restroom to “personalize” it. And then to hand it to him with the ink smeared and the envelope still wet.

Instead, we will spend this National Day of Tacky, Love-Themed Consumerism at home. Just the 4 1/2 of us. I’ll likely wear the only pair of sweatpants I can still comfortably wear while we search for restaurants in the area that aren’t too busy to deliver. And after we’ve scarfed down our pizza or Greek food and put the kids to bed, I’ll curl up next to the man who, to my knowledge, has never stolen a gift for me. A man who tells me I look cute in maternity sweatpants. A man who wins me over every day of the year—without the assistance of heart-shaped antacids. A man who knows that the best Valentine I could ever receive is the gift of his Christlike love for me and our kids.

But a man who is wise enough to buy me a little something special anyway.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my wonderful readers. And a very happy Valentine’s Day to my precious husband: a man who doesn’t mind if the only gift he receives from me—besides the unwavering devotion of a reformed extortionist—is a half-priced Reese’s heart the week after Valentine’s Day.

At least I hope he’s that man. 

What are your romantic Valentine’s Day plans?

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Comments to "Happy National Day of Tacky, Love-Themed Consumerism!"

  1. Dona

    February 14, 2015

    I will start off my day by going to my church to clean and pray, followed by a doctor’s appointment. Then I will come home, read your post and thoroughly enjoy it. Followed by going out to lunch with my daughter (totally un-Valentine related), and shopping for a gift for a friend of hers. Then….read. Or clean. Or do pretty much whatever I want to do in the most comfy clothes I have…..my robe. The End.

    Love you, girl. Your posts always make my day! Dona

  2. Loretta W.

    February 14, 2015

    Good for you! Truly, there is NOTHING more romantic than being comfortable and happy! For our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple (40 years ago), my husband didn’t even think to give me a card. Must admit I was a little peeved, but I eventually learned that a card or flowers is not the way he showed he loved me.

    My husband and I are having steak, asparagus and baked potato at home and just found out that our married son is staying home as well and having the exact same menu with his wife at his house. Even tho. your children are little now, and there will be more than a few rough patches when they hit their teens, it is beyond wonderful to see them actually become the adults you hoped they would be.

    Happy Valentine’s Day Love your posts!

  3. Amy Griffin

    February 14, 2015

    I have to say that I do get excited for the heart shaped pressed powder conversation hearts, but after I eat a few, I quickly regret buying them… 🙂

    Since my husband is never home to celebrate with me, he has always said Valentine’s day doesn’t mean anything since everyday we show how much we love each other. After I groan and roll my eyes at him, I do have to agree. :).

    Today, instead of a restaurant that I have to go into alone with three kids, we did Cuina Panda drive thru. It’s the closest to a real restaurant meal without having three kids free of restraints with me as the only adult (I mean seatbelts) and where I don’t have to have a bra on to get the food. 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s day my friend. I love you as much today as I did the day you helped me figure out what the jolly rancher lady was teaching us around the back of a ten gallon cowboy hat.

  4. Beth

    February 14, 2015

    We spent the day at the in-laws which was nice, and then my 16 year old and I worked concessions at the HS basketball game. After that I took her to her job and am waiting for her. Meanwhile, I assume 13 year old daughter and my husband had a “date”. Daughter was proposing wearing fancy clothes to McDonald’s.

  5. Robert Walsh

    February 15, 2015

    This message is the truth and so real. I love it. This is exactly the reason why I do not buy anything for Valentines Day. Just another way for people to make a ton of money.

    Bobby

  6. Katy's Mama

    February 16, 2015

    We had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Went to the movie for the first time in over a year. We saw American Sniper. Not exactly a romatic movie but a great one. Very intense! Then we went to B.J.’s and bought stuff to grill out. It was 51 degrees when we started but I think it got a little cold by the the time G-Man was done. I wouldn’t know, I was inside! We then exchanged gifts. G-Man bought me an ironing board that I had mentioned I wanted but was way too expensive. Gotta love a Man that listens to what you say you want and believes you!

    Katy I do believe that the boys Mama called me and I had to meet her to return her jewelry! She was not a happy camper!

    Hope y’all had a great weekend. Stay warm!

  7. Kim

    February 23, 2015

    This post made me laugh so much! I detest Valentines day. As in, the Grinch comes to February 14th. It goes back to middle school. Roses for $1.00. If you didn’t get a freaking rose delivered to class you stuck out like a big loser. My friends and I resorted to giving one another roses. One year a boy I can only describe as the Anthony Michael Hall of the school gave me a rose. On valentines day I asked my 15 yr old if they still did anything like that in school. He looked at me like I was insane. This year my husband and I, and our three children went out to eat on Valentines Day. The two of us and our 15, 11 and 7 year old. I have to say, it was the best Valentines day I’ve had.
    Kim recently posted…Practicing ContentmentMy Profile

  8. Pingback: Feeling Lucky - (Nobody Puts) Katy in a Corner

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