Valentine’s Day sometimes feels like it’s more complicated than it’s worth. If you’re in a relationship, what should you do to show your significant other that you love them? How much is too much? Is it necessary to put in more effort on Valentine’s Day than on any other day of the year? And if you’re single, should you try to go out and meet someone? Should you curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a sappy rom-com? Or should you try to forget that Valentine’s Day exists altogether?
If we’re being perfectly honest, all the exciting, mature Valentine’s Day visions we dreamed up as kids didn’t turn out to be that exciting after all. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a fun, frilly celebration of love, but instead it’s become an excuse to stress out about either being in a relationship or not being a relationship. Discount chocolate sales and romantic movie marathons aside, we don’t think we’d miss Valentine’s Day if it suddenly and mysteriously went away.
That is, we wouldn’t miss the Valentine’s Day we have now. We do, however, miss the Valentine’s Day of yesteryear. The Valentine’s Day of Rice Krispies Treats, SpongeBob-themed cards, and cinnamon hearts. Yes, the Rice Krispies Treats usually resembled blobs rather than hearts, the cards were almost always painfully lame, and cinnamon hearts are objectively disgusting. And yet we’d take them all back in exchange for the Valentine’s Day we have now. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Growing up, getting snacks and candy on Valentine’s Day was an inevitability. Maybe your parents got you a heart-shaped lollipop. Maybe your classmates tossed in a couple Hershey Kisses along with their school-approved valentines (which we’ll get to later). And if you were lucky, maybe your teacher gave you some candy hearts after an impressive showing on a test or assignment.
Getting chocolates or candies from a significant other or particularly awesome friend certainly isn’t a bad thing. We’ll take candy whenever and wherever we can get it. But doesn’t it usually feel like said candy is being given out of either obligation or, even worse, pity? Childhood candy is never pity candy. Childhood candy is an undeniable, dependable constant, and it’s candy we would take back in a heartbeat (no pun intended).
Obviously, there’s nothing stopping us from watching the same romantic movies we watched as kids. The Princess Diaries, A Cinderella Story, the entire Disney canon, etc. The difference is that now it’s a little bit harder to accept these movies as truth. Do we still swoon when Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray kiss in the rain, defying the forces that conspired to drive them apart? Absolutely. Do we think the same thing could happen to us? Not anymore.
Ultimately, accepting the fact that a handsome football player or hot musician won’t dramatically sweep us off our feet is probably a good thing. That doesn’t mean we don’t miss the days when losing a guy in 10 days and then getting him back in one was a possibility.
Even if you’re not the school spirit type, it’s hard to deny the fact that Valentine’s Day parties and school dances were kind of the best. They usually involved skipping at least half a day of class, discovering which potato chip-chocolate combo was the best, and unapologetically dancing along to the YMCA.
And when it came to school-sanctioned events, you could pretty much guarantee that all your friends were going to be there. Nowadays, it usually takes at least two months’ notice and a handful of scheduling apps to coordinate everyone’s calendars.
Yes, handing out valentines to every kid in your class (even the kid who pointed and laughed when you got hit in the face with a volleyball) was usually mandatory. That doesn’t change the fact that getting valentines—even mass-produced ones decorated with fun cartoon characters and goofy sayings like “you’re the only fish in the sea” (for a Finding Nemo-themed card, obviously)—felt magical and amazing. And if a classmate went out of their way to hand make their cards? Even better.
The fleeting eye contact. The awkward slow dances. Convincing yourself that the valentine you got from your crush was just a teensy bit bigger or fancier than the ones the rest of the class got. All of it was absolutely thrilling. And even if it turned out that your crush didn’t actually like you back, it was relatively easy to move on after a good cry and a lighthearted game of four square.
The anticipation surrounding February 14 seems to fade with every passing year. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from this walk down memory lane, it’s that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be this way. We propose that from this day on, we try to channel the charming simplicity of Valentine’s Days past. Don’t drive yourself crazy planning big romantic gestures. Don’t stress out about not having exciting Valentine’s Day plans or composing the perfect couple-y pic to post on social media. Just buy yourself a big bag of Hershey Kisses, await Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray’s epic cinematic union, and take things as they come.
By: Sara Cristiano