Because Love isn’t one Day, it’s a Way of Life!
Being the retail industry’s picture postcard consumer is so last year. Well, in my world, anyway. On Valentine’s Day and the weeks leading up to it, there is actually nothing more that I love to do than break the rules. Sweet Miss Pollyanna I may be, but I’m not one to conform to convention. And c’mon, Valentine’s Day is one mass-market, commercialised load of hype. Quite the opposite from one interpretation of the way it all began; J.C. Cooper, in The Dictionary of Christianity, would have us believe that Saint Valentine was, in fact, “a priest of Rome who was imprisoned for succouring persecuted Christians.”
So in the spirit of such alleged rebellion, and because true acts of love should be about spontaneity after all, I urge you to break free yourselves and try some of the following ideas. They are nothing short of liberating and lots of fun!
1: Send yourself a Valentine’s card. Or ten.
You should be loving yourself first anyway. You don’t need the approval of your husband/wife/partner/parents (yes, really… I’ve lost track of the number of my school friends who used to get cards from their mums and dads!)/pets/kids or the mystery Romeo who roams your neighbourhood. It is the most delicious way to make yourself feel good. Trust me, I know. And it is only now, in hindsight.
You see: I never received a Valentine’s card at High school. And I mean never. Ever. And everybody else did. Including my younger sister. Valentine’s day for me in those days – an awkward, shy, self-conscious, bullied and almost Billy No Mates kind of early teen – was not exactly fun. Until I decided to make it fun. And so I would handpick 10 awesome and quite different Valentine’s cards from our local newsagents (who probably had a right laugh about it every year!), sneak them home, pop unique messages of undying love in various forms of calligraphy inside them, post them to my house and then practice my surprised look as the Postie heaved his sack up the front path and let them tumble elegantly onto the hallway carpet.
Such fun! And such a great way to wipe the smug grin off your pretty blonde younger sibling.
But all that to one side. What I was really doing (unbeknownst to me at that time) was sending a massive signal to the Universe that actually, I loved myself enough to do that for myself every Valentine’s Day. I’m not saying you have to go to the lengths of 10. But writing a love note to yourself, far from being as weird as it sounds, is actually one of the most powerful ways of honouring yourself, putting YOU first and subconsciously deciding there and then that you will not settle for second best.
You don’t need somebody to ‘complete’ you. For you are whole and perfectly lovable to YOU exactly as YOU are.
I then went on to sending ‘trick’ cards to other like-minded geeks; those who, like me, probably wouldn’t have attracted the wistful gaze of the school’s pin up themselves either. It was super easy in those days. You simply flicked through the town’s telephone directory and found your school mates addresses.
And so I spent my half-term doing that… even talking my sister into the fun and games! As we never admitted our antics to anybody at school (because every year we ran this operation as smoothly and covertly as MI5) I like to think that we spread a little ripple of light in several directions in those days. We ignited a burst or two of self-esteem to those in need just as they needed it the most.
2: Have dinner in public… unconventional style!
Raise the eyebrows of fellow ‘lovebirds’ as they share their spaghetti strands a la Lady and The Tramp on the eve of the 14th. If you’re a woman, go out with two other females, or two other males. Let The Sheep spend their dates wondering which of you will initiate the ‘just desserts’ menage a trois. I have done this before – the dining out with two girlfriends that is… not the menage bit – and the results were hilarious, a night that lived on long in the memory, simply because all 3 of us were single that year.
It was our two fingers up to a society and its commercialism that have got under the skin to such a ridiculous degree. And if you really must go all traditional on me and dine out with your significant other, then why not do it en-masse? A huge table full of couples makes for a much more entertaining time than the two of you looking around pathetically at everybody else who is fake cooing away, feeling obliged to buy the red rose from the accordion player and pop the question on one knee in sync with the other 25 tables. Let The Sheep wonder if you are a table full of swingers…
3: Do the most unromantic thing on the day. Just because.
I don’t mean that you should be mean, icky or awful to one another… if you are snuggled up in coupledom. Rather that you should go paintballing, surfing, out with your separate sets of friends or attend a first aid course. Anything but the predictable. Anything but the boxes of chocolates. Anything but the ‘romantic’ and socially enforced mini break to Paris. Anything but the petals of roses leading to the scented candles in a heart shape around the king-sized bed. Please!
And if you are single? Just do anything that averts your disgruntled gaze from those snogging in public, bragging on Facebook about the Champers and massage they’ve received from their smitten other half, or sporting his n hers/hers n hers/his n his matching heart emblazoned sweaters. You don’t need to know!
4: Romantic meal on February 13th or 15th.
My husband and I did this last year. The Moroccan restaurant was empty. It was fab. He wasn’t under any pressure to cave in to the puppy dog eyes of any restaurant seranader… or their floral wares. The service was excellent. The price was amazing. In short: we feasted like King and Queen. All minus doe-eyed expectant women and nervous men flicking through their wallets to check they had the bill covered before ordering the Bollinger… and fidgeting nervously in their seats hoping to God they hadn’t lost the diamonds in their pockets.
5: Play rock music instead of a ballad.
All day. All night. The 14th is time for Muse, Queen, Led Zepellin and Kiss (just not the romantic kind). Refrain from putting on your Westlife, your Celine Dion and your Whitney. As much as we can love them all on any run-of-the-mill day of the week, we have to remind ourselves: this is a revolution! It’s a love revolution. If we want our lives to be full of love every day, then we have to stop making love about just one day.
6: But it’s okay to buy yourself flowers.
Heck yeah! You go into that florist and you buy yourself the BIGGEST bunch of flowers you can find. And when they quiz you as to who the lucky girl or guy is… ooh, you absolutely delight in your unconventional ‘why these are for ME, MOI, YO, ICH – feel free to fill in the first-person singular personal pronoun of your chosen language here – who else would they be for?!!‘
7: And chocolates.
No, I am not being contradictory. Because you are buying these for YOU. And that is different. Refer back to points 1) and 6) and savour. But don’t devour. For to devour suggests you are in a bad mood since nobody else thought to buy you the luxury Swiss delicacies you have hand-selected from the most expensive chocolatier in the city. But to savour, that’s something else; that’s knowing you are worth it…
8: Bake Nigella’s Custard Cream Hearts
You’ll need to buy her ‘Feast‘ book for the recipe. But here’s a gorgeous pic of the traditional version of the recipe. However, as much as I love Nigella, this article is all about doing away with convention. And so that’s exactly what we are going to do. We’ll bake the Custard Creams. Just because they taste unbelievably good; irrevocably better than any shop bought variety you have ever sampled in your life. And then we’ll cut them out in the shape of gingerbread men. Or ladies. Take your pick. Because, sometimes, just sometimes, even Pollyanna’s like me have to be a little bit naughty. And this particular method of ‘revenge being a dish best served cold’ is oh so good to get a certain person out of your system. Rather than doing it in person, well, you can slowly nibble, chomp and chew at his or her bodily parts. All in the safety of biscuit form. I can’t deny karma won’t have its way with you… for what we give out we get back… but sometimes this is the quickest way to put a lost love to bed, feel better and move on. And as we’re going against the grain in style, on February the 14th we can make an exception!
Happy Self Love Day!