Confessions of a Valentine’s Day Dissenter

It might not be February yet, but I’ve been seeing red for more than two weeks.

Written by Molly Klima


Whether it’s marked on your calendar, or has totally escaped your thoughts, Valentine’s Day is approaching nonetheless, and I’m counting down the days. Not because I have any grand plans, or desire to load up on discounted Target candy the day after, but because I want it to be over. To own up to it completely, I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Like, at all.


Valentine’s Day makes me put my nose in the air and look the other way, and there’s a simple reason why: I think it’s overdone. It arrives with a distinct scent of high expectations and over-commercialization (looking at you, Hallmark Channel movies and Target displays that have been up since the new year). I also think that it gives people in relationships an opportunity to compensate for the lack of effort they may otherwise be putting forward during the rest of the year. It’s cynical and shallow, I know, especially for someone whose grandfather was born on Valentine’s Day, and who celebrated his birthday, the holiday, and his wedding anniversary every year on February 14th. But these opinions stem from the fact that I have always seen February 14th approach with much more fanfare than the actual celebration possesses.


This year is no different, and I have my roommate to thank for that. An unapologetic Valentine’s Day activist, she has wrapped red and pink ribbons around our living room, tied bows on my potted plants, and hung a garland of paper hearts over the hallway. Our chalkboard has a sickeningly cute poem in capital letters hung in the entrance, and there is a massive vase of fake tulips on our coffee table, supported by more than two bags of M&Ms that I am not allowed to touch, much less eat. We have a crimson wreath in our kitchen, decals on our windows, and a themed diffuser. The overarching Pepto-Bismol color theme is anything but subtle.


Nevertheless, I know her heart is in the right place, even as I cringe at every reminder of the upcoming date. She celebrates Valentine’s Day as the one day a year she can go overboard in showing her love for every person in her life, whether it be family, friends, or significant others. She sees it as a culmination of all of the gratitude and enthusiasm and wonder she holds for every being in her life, and it is one of the purest things to witness, to see her interact with humanity on Valentine’s Day. It almosts makes a dissenter like me want to break out a bouquet of roses.


See, I grew up thinking that Valentine’s Day spat in the face of real love, which I thought was something so subtle and sweet that it could be shown off in small acts every day of the year, like randomly taking out the trash, or recommending someone a book, or offering to make time to see someone, or saying “I’m proud of you”. I wasn’t wrong. A lot of love is shown that way. It doesn’t make those expressions any more genuine than anything my roommate - or anyone else - does on Valentine’s Day, like getting a dinner reservation, or bringing home flowers, or sending a themed card. And those actions, even as predictable as they may be on that day, aren’t any less meaningful simply because of the day of the year. Real love isn’t limited to any kind of timeframe, and time doesn’t determine the existence or strength of love.


I’ll confess to being a Valentine’s Day dissenter, but I’ll also confess to being just as awed by the strength and breadth of human affection as anyone else, thanks to my friends, family, and, obviously, my roommate. It’s not the worst thing in the world to have a day devoted to that. And I have to admit that the Hallmark Channel and Target will capitalize on just about any calendar holiday, not just Valentine’s Day. So as gaudy as the decorations in my apartment are, you won’t catch me tearing them down when the clock strikes midnight. Just don’t sell me out to my roommate quite yet. I’ll figure out how to tell her at some point.