The 'true' story doesn't get much of a look in, probably because its origins are religious; people prefer Chaucer's take on it, talking about courtly love and the presentation of gifts like flowers and confectionery. Funny, that, another holiday that's all about the gifts and cards. But this one's a bit different, because unlike Christmas, you only get a card or a gift if someone fancies you (or did at least, at one point, pretend to). No wonder people think this is a crap day. Once again consumerism strikes, but this time it's telling you to believe that if you're single, or if you don't receive a valentine from someone, if you're single, then you're somehow less than. You're less loved, less appreciated, and quite frankly, less hot.
And this is absolute rubbish.
You're not any of those things. You're great. You're just as great as you were on 13th February and will be on 15th February.
My favourite valentine's day memory was actually a dinner with a great friend in our university days. We were both single, I terminally so throughout university, and decided to go out to dinner together that night. I can't remember whether we even remembered it was valentine's day by the evening. I usually noticed these things in the morning of the day itself, when my pigeon hole was possibly filled with some flyer or other, but definitely not with a valentine's card, but days at Oxford were like weeks in the way we worked to pack in library time, essay writing, coffee with friends, shopping (for about 10 minutes) eating, tutorials and sleeping in any order at all each day. Such was this granular experience of life that it seemed days or weeks had passed from the morning of the Valentine's day to the evening.
Off we went up the high street to one of our favourite casual dining locations, All Bar One, which at the time was a relatively new addition to our dining choices, and was mid-priced (which meant it was slightly more expensive than we could afford, but not a dinner where we blew our entire student loans in a single appetiser).We were seated in a corner of the dining area at a neat little table for two. I can't remember whether we ordered wine or not, or just soft drinks, but I can remember what we both ordered - burgers. We were always celebrating at Oxford: the end of an essay crisis; the end of a week; the fact that it was spring; the fact that it was the beginning of term, or the end. So we sat and chatted about all those hundreds of events and conversations we had had since we last spoke, a day or so before.
About ten minutes into our conversation a little tea light in a glass holder was placed at our table 'discretely' by our waiter. Nice touch, we thought. And then we looked around us and noticed that all the other tables were set for two. And all the other tables had candles. And that we were, accidentally, on a date night with one another.
At this point we wondered whether we should tell the waiter, "Actually we're not a couple," or better yet start holding hands and making eyes at each other across the table. [This option was never going to work, we were already close to tears with laughter at our ridiculous situation.] So we ate our romantic, Valentine's meal of burger and fries. We laughed about our unconscious coupling and we just about managed to interact with the waiter for the rest of the meal without trying to explain away our situation. It was a fun night. And it just happened to be February 14th.
I know I'm married now so things are a bit different, but we never go out to eat on Valentine's Day. I think my friend and I were lucky that night, lucky because most dates don't take place at All Bar One. Also lucky because in our more insecure youthful days we may have felt the need, had a real date been in the offing, to be wined and dined at somewhere swankier with a massive price hike for a three course meal of the cheapest ingredients possible (prawn cocktail with frozen prawns...you may as well eat at a Little Chef or the Wimpy bar) served with a glass of cheap prosecco for a bargain price of £45 a head.
Stay in on Valentine's day, away from the hype and the over priced meal deals. If you like mushy films (I do) see one. If you don't mind going to the cinema on your own (I don't) surrounded by two by two by twos go and see Fifty Shades of Grey or whatever else is on offer, do that. Buy yourself flowers or chocolates if you like them. Go shopping and treat yourself or others if you can. Eat well and inexpensively; drink champagne if you like it whether you're single or not. Tell your children that you love them and do something fun together. Send your friends cards to tell them what they mean to you. Valentine's day is about love, but I don't see why it shouldn't be about loving yourself first, and secondly others around you, regardless of whether they're your partner, your sibling, your friend or children. And eat burgers. Because burgers are amazing. And I heart burgers.