Why Valentine’s Day can be good

WSS staffer Renee Gould ‘22 shares the events of their Valentine’s Day and some tips for how to turn this often toxic holiday into a positive one.

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Cassandra Michaels

Renee Gould ’22 breaks down all the ways to turn Valentine’s Day from a day of stress and sadness to a time for appreciating the ones you love.

Valentine’s Day is often heralded as a day for couples. Specifically those in romantic relationships. However, Valentine’s Day is a rather versatile holiday, as it primarily celebrates love. Though romantic love gets a lot of attention, there are many different types of love you can choose to celebrate! Self-love, familial love and platonic love to name a few. Personally, I focused on platonic love and self-love. 

First off, self-love. This took up most of my day as I had decided early that Valentine’s Day was going to be primarily a “me day.” This is just an account of what I did, because I enjoy doing these things. Practicing self-love on Valentine’s Day is just as critical as on any other day, it’s just easier to justify doing bigger things. For example, buying those three discounted bags of chocolate and that giant teddy bear. Personally, I indulged in retail therapy, allowing myself to get pretty much everything I wanted, within reason. I then was able to spend the remainder of the day in comfy oversized clothes and watching shows filled with nostalgia and good-feels, while eating more than enough comfort food. Really, just an indulgent day. 

I was also sure to spend at least an hour on activities that I enjoy that I haven’t been able to enjoy in a while. For me, this took the form of writing, so I spent a couple of hours working on old, vaguely ridiculous stories. I also spent a couple of hours at the end of the day reading the books I hadn’t gotten to. Though this is what my self-love time took the form of, this is deeply personal and everyone’s will look different. It’s just important to carve out a significant amount of time to simply enjoy the things you like, particularly on a day meant to be the embodiment of love. What’s more loving than taking care of yourself for a while?

What’s more loving than taking care of yourself for a while?”

— Renee Gould '22

Towards the middle of the day, I focused briefly on platonic love. I had originally planned to take a friend shopping and buy them literally everything they like, before going to their favorite restaurant. This plan was curtailed by COVID and their nerves about being infected. So I adjusted to bringing stuff to them. I went through and got some of their favorites cookies, along with bouquets of fake flowers, and some other items I was sure they would like. Though we were only able to be physically near each other for a short time, I’m pleased to report I got a very happy message telling me I hit it out of the park! This required a decent amount of setup, such as quietly questioning all their favorites three months ahead of time and paying attention to any hobby they tell me about. But, it paid off! Though for platonic love, you don’t need to do this much setup, I’m just obsessive. Really, going shopping the day before while texting them about their favorite candy and what sort of plushy things they want will work just as well. 

Mostly, I’ve found that negative opinions on Valentine’s Day focus on the pressure related to the expensive cost and pressure on romantic relationships. Personally, I find this can be bypassed rather quickly. Though buying expensive things is traditional, this can be talked through beforehand. Buying chocolates and candy early, though less festive, is a bit cheaper. Fake flowers are cheaper before February as well. Though there is an expectation of fancy, expensive dinners, if you are careful to learn your partner’s favorite meal or restaurant, you could make a modest meal or have a nice dinner at a less expensive restaurant. Of course, this can be negated if your partner has an expensive pallet… so offering to watch a movie at home with pre-bought snacks might suit you better. Really, the high cost of Valentine’s Day can be curbed by thinking through what your partner might like beforehand and not just buying into traditional Valentine’s Day presents. Plenty of people dislike expensive dinners and flowers, so learning your partners’ taste is imperative to avoid spending a lot. 

While singles are absolutely left out of mainstream ideas of Valentine’s Day, they can still happily celebrate through spending the day with friends, or family, or even just by indulging themselves.”

— Renee Gould '22

Another critique I’ve heard is that the holiday saddles couples with impossible standards along with leaving singles out. First off, singles aren’t really left out. Valentine’s Day is a day of love, and love comes in many different forms. While singles are absolutely left out of mainstream ideas of Valentine’s Day, they can still happily celebrate through spending the day with friends, or family, or even just by indulging themselves. And though Valentine’s Day absolutely puts tons of pressure onto couples, particularly men, as Valentine’s Day is depicted in movies and media is this day where men spend hundreds on fancy meals, rings, and extravagant displays of affection. Honestly, this can be fixed internally by choosing to celebrate in more modest, intimate ways, or by mainstream media changing the depiction. These types of pressures are definitely negative and very toxic, so ignoring them and talking through plans with your partner, or thinking it through on your own, is key to enjoying Valentine’s Day. 

To be honest, Valentine’s Day doesn’t seem like an important holiday to me. And considering the damage it has caused; it should likely be ignored. Though, I think Valentine’s Day can be redeemed and turned positive. Through ignoring the mainstream ideas and simply doing what best suits you and your partner, or other special person in your life, Valentine’s Day can easily become a relaxing day of enjoying the people you care about, and taking care of yourself.