Valentine's Day Stockings

When I was growing up, holidays were always a big deal for my family and Valentine’s Day was no exception. My dad really knew how to celebrate. We even had Valentine’s Day stockings. 
I’m. Not. Kidding.

My love of celebrating Valentine’s Day has continued into adulthood. For my husband, it is both a blessing and a curse to be married to someone who is preparing to give and do so much on Valentine’s Day, but also expects so much in return. However, the Valentine’s Day that I see on every Kay commercial ever made is just not us. For us, Valentine’s Day (or any holiday) is a great day to eat a marvelous meal with someone you care about and spend some time under the sheets doing something besides checking our Facebook and snuggling with the cat. Which is fine, because the beautiful thing about starting your own little family means being able to re-invent holidays and creating new traditions. (Dad would be proud.)
Here’s how we’re taking back Valentine’s Day:
Coming from a large Italian family, I know that the most important part of any holiday is sharing a meal together. A large meal. With carbs. But I don’t believe in going out to eat on Valentine’s Day. It feels fake. I just don’t understand why going out to eat is such a big deal, especially when it’s an overpriced prix fixe menu of crap I probably don’t want to eat anyway. So instead, I make something festive: pasta with red sauce, heart-shaped pizza…heck, heart-shaped anything. Cooking at home (together) is fun and sexy. (My husband in the kitchen? Yowza!)
Even though we aren’t going out to eat, another Nolan family tradition is to give our appearances a little extra pizazz. For me, it can just be doing a little extra with my hair, or makeup — anything that makes me feel sexy can really set the mood and remind me of how I was splitting with excitement for our first Valentine’s Day together. And I like to remind him that he is in fact married to a woman, not a bag lady. (Some people might mistake sweat pants for laziness. Crazy, right?) For my husband, it’s a little extra hair wax, a spray or two of cologne, and maybe a few push-ups make him look a little more like Christian Grey. These little things that we do that seem shallow or unimportant are really our way of reaffirming to each other that our relationship is still important, still valid…that we are both worth trying to impress. And that’s a powerful romantic gesture.
On Valentine’s Day, or any special date night, we also make it a rule to ban technology. (We also ban technology on days when we’re either about to crawl into our phones and live in them or, conversely, chuck them out the window.) It’s so easy to get overly-plugged in, so bogged down with all of our “online responsibilities;” there are nights when we get in bed and realize we haven’t even spoken beyond discussing how good the quiche was that we had for dinner. That’s. Pathetic.
Making time to give each other our undivided attention is better than any bouquet of flowers, fancy dinner, or expensive jewelry (although I never mind getting attention AND jewelry). Being able to talk to my husband and really talk and really listened to, that’s a memory made that trumps any Hallmark — St. Valentine, Patron Saint of Beekeepers — holiday. (Seriously, look it up.)
Yes, it’s an oft-misinterpreted holiday that’s easy to dismiss as stupid, but celebrating love is a good thing. If the “traditional” way of celebrating isn’t for you, then make your own holiday that reflects who you are as a couple and represents the parts of your relationship that are most important to you. We put in the work to reclaim Valentine’s Day to make it a celebration of our relationship, not a copy of a Kay commercial. I just wish we had stockings.

This post originally appeared here, The REWM, Taking Back Valentine's Day

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