Valentine’s Day Lessons

14 Feb

I am not a Valentine’s Day hater. Sure, it is easy to go the cynical ‘this holiday was created by greeting card companies to strip the masses of lots of money’ route, but I choose not to go there. I think it is a fun day to dress up, go on a date and focus on a little romance. But on the other hand, I don’t support Valentine’s being the only romantic day in the year. Birthdays, anniversaries and those random ‘I love you so I will surprise you with (fill in the blank)’ days are also crucial if not more important. So I acknowledge and appreciate this holiday, but I don’t overhype it (anymore – see lesson 1). As I just foreshadowed, I wasn’t always this wise. As Ike and I are about to spend our 5th V-day together, I can look back and laugh at the lessons we have learned – most all of them the hard way. Please learn from our mistakes to enjoy a sweet, non-stressful and drama free Valentine’s.

Lesson 1: Have Clear Expectations

I love holidays. I still wake up really early on Christmas morning and I extend my birthday celebrations for as long as possible. But with that love, I usually go overboard with my expectations for a special day. I have learned to scale back my dreams  and/or clue Ike in on what’s really important. If I want to go out and get gifts, I need to say it. If I want candles and a surprise, I need to communicate that. At the risk of sounding negative, I’ve realized that if I don’t have super high expectations I can’t be disappointed. This is the key to enjoying Valentine’s Day. Just relax and enjoy the day! Whatever it has to offer. But if you do have something you really want, ask for it, in no uncertain terms. That’s the only 100% way of not being disappointed.

Lesson 2: Don’t Lie

Ok, in the Peters house, it seems like we are saving money constantly. First, it was paying off school debt and now it is saving for a down payment (and we have car and major appliances purchases in our future as well, sigh). So when we have the option to skip gifts or an expensive dinner and save, I am always tempted to go for it. I am a practical person and this is the practical option.  But the practical option always seems great until about February 13th.

Case in point: Last year, we decided to go out, but get no gifts. But you know what I did? I got upset when Ike didn’t get me anything! From that drama, I’ve learned to be more honest and forthright. And okay, I don’t like getting absolutely nothing, so I will probably never say “no gifts” again. Please ladies, be clear about what you want and expect! Being mad about not getting what you said you didn’t want helps no one.

Lesson 3: Make sure the restaurant you go to doesn’t have an extremely pricey Valentine’s Day special

Poor Ike! During our first year of marriage, we decided to spend $50 on our V-day date (a splurge, let me tell you). He took charge of the plans, was very secretive and made reservations weeks in advance. But when we got to the restaurant (a cozy and romantic little Italian place) we realized they were only serving the Valentine’s Day special and it would be well over $100 when it was all said and done. So, after a quick discussion we decided it wasn’t worth it and got up and left. Talk about a bummer! And then we inadvertently learned lesson 4.

Lesson 4: If you don’t make reservations, don’t grumble

If you don’t have reservations on Valentine’s Day, you will be waiting for hours for a table along with the rest of the grumbling impatient masses who also didn’t make reservations. Hunger and crowds are not romantic. So if you are going out on Valentine’s, plan it!

This year, we decided to cook and have a nice night at home. I’m making eggplant parmesan (with my homemade marinara and whole wheat linguine), garlic bread and Caesar salad for dinner. And for dessert I’m trying my hand at a made from scratch strawberry cake with cream cheese icing. I love cooking and baking so I’m really excited about enjoying Valentine’s Day at home. We’ve also decided to get each other a small surprise so that is a clear expectation as well. I think this will be our most laid back and enjoyable Valentine’s yet. But I’ll let you know if I learn anything from this year!

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