I was talking to my niece and nephew in Germany about holidays and gifts. The holiday “tyranny,” we like to call it. We have all stopped giving gifts to each other. “But the girls,” my nephew remarked, “they want gifts because it’s romantic.” Christmas is barely over and there’s the next gift-holiday approaching. Valentine’s has even arrived across the Atlantic, but Valentine’s is different, we agreed, Valentine is small gifts, tokens, little love gestures. You can get away with a chocolate kiss, a special night-cap, a romantic dinner, a card – if you can get away at all. There’s an unspoken expectation to re-live the moment you were swept off your feet. But let’s be realistic: can you be swept off your feet again and again, every year, on one particular day? Are you setting yourself up for failure, perhaps?
In that case, negging out might fun for a change. Opting out of the commercialization of Valentine’s – all the red plastic hearts and pink teddy bears winking at you from every storefront –you can easily avoid giving material gifts. Just do for once what you haven’t done all year for your darling, even though she’s been looking at you askance or with a frown and even raising her voice a few times. Yes, wash the dishes on Valentine’s, make order in the closet without being told, weed the flower box even though it’s really her job. It may seem prosaic, but the effect could be quite romantic, made of the unexpected. Fulfillment of a standing wish list. If you are too tired or stressed to do anything this arduous, give her a coupon for a generous act in the near future: a foot massage, a phone call to get her Iphone fixed, taking the cat to the vet. You know what your lover is like, and what she would like… from you.
Following the model of my latest book (Lesbian Marriage: A Love & Sex Forever Kit) I suggest a few do’s and don’ts to make this year’s Valentine’s Day memorable and romantic in a way that could very well spill over into the rest of the year.
Don’t… make it a chore.
Don’t cave in to the conventional, the repetition: Roses, over-the-top expensive dinner, Tegan & Sara/ k.d. lang on the iPod. Don’t accept making it a duty to be inspired, because all hell will break loose if you don’t perform. Don’t accept the stress of scavenging through the leftover Valentine’s Day cards that border on cheesy or downright vulgar. You’ll both end up with a more or less secret grudge (and you know from the Forever Kit what grudges have to do with bed death!)
Okay, perhaps being creative is not your thing which is why you stick to your guns on what you think your lover enjoys. After all, you pride yourself in being the practical girl who knows her partner inside and out. However, there is much merit in trying something new. Your wallet doesn’t have to suffer and a creative attempt goes a long way- even if it is just an epic failure to laugh about later and have a good story to tell your friends.
Don’t… pretend you forgot.
Unless you are living under a rock, Valentine’s Day is hammered into you for weeks – in fact, from the moment the X-mas trees land in the dumpster. Thanks to capitalism, it’s a can’t miss- can’t run- can’t hide type of day.
Do… be honest.
Honesty can be incredibly romantic. Remember there’s whole books about the art and aphrodisiac of telling the truth. (True Secrets of Lesbian Desire) For example, let’s say you did forget. Instead of laying it on thick and telling her lame excuses, come clean. Try to tell her the truth about your lacking feelings for Valentine’s Day. You probably have some deep, good reasons for your lapses. Find them and then celebrate that you can be understood and therefore forgiven. Maybe you get a good laugh because you hit at what she secretly also wanted, ie. to ignore the whole stress and duty of love. Then the two of you can still decide to celebrate your moment of truth telling, if you are so inpsired. Your Valentine’s honesty might win you a few “aww”s and could even make its way to the bedroom.