So how will you celebrate Galentine’s Day this year?
Allison Holst-Grubbe has already invited 45 women to her annual gathering. If that sounds like a lot, one year she invited 80 friends. That was back when she lived in a smallish apartment in Hartford. The friends all came — fortunately, not at the same time.
If you aren’t a fan of “Parks and Recreation,” the political satire television show that last aired in 2015, Galentine’s is a fake holiday introduced in the show’s second season by main character Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler. Every year, the day before Valentine’s Day, lady friends (gals) leave their partners to breakfast together — or lunch, “like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas,” according to Poehler/Knope.
The episode was written by the show’s co-creator Michael Schur, a Connecticut native (also of “The Office” and “The Good Place”), and it aired three days before Valentine 2010 — or, more importantly, two days before the first-ever Galentine’s.
That a man came up with the idea of a holiday that honors women’s friendships is both ironic and beautiful. All over the world — or, at least, the world within reach of “Parks and Rec” — real, live lady friends started gathering, sheepishly at first, but then with vigor. The idea was goofy and sweet enough to become a part of the cultural landscape, with Madeleine Albright as its patron saint.
The event has since been commodified. Target sells Galentine-themed products, and Hallmark sells cards (including a “Happy Galentine’s Day From Your Most Inappropriate Friend,” available for $3.59).
Holst-Grubbe, who is Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters director of school programs, began celebrating Galentine’s seven or so years ago. Since her inaugural event, she has gathered her buddies for brunches, lunches and happy hours. In fact, when she married Paige in 2018, she didn’t want a shower, so a friend flew in from Virginia and threw a Galentine’s Day party.
And it was like the Lilith Fair, plus frittatas. And though Holst-Grubbe isn’t particularly crafty, some years she has gone full-Knope and made personalized cards for her girlfriends. One year, she ordered pencils stamped with “Ovaries Before Brovaries,” classic Knope.
And isn’t that the truth? Think back over the last year, and the women in sensible pumps who strode into the spotlight. Some, you already know, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Some most of us had never heard of, including former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and foreign affairs specialist Fiona Hill, women who calmly and methodically, despite trolls and threats and nastiness and the glare, told the truth.
Though Galentine’s didn’t begin as an overtly political event, it’s morphing into one. On the Galentine’s Day after Trump’s election, Holst-Grubbe’s party wrote postcards to their elected officials about things that were important to them. (Most of her friends lean left. She said if there are any political arguments among her friends, it’s between centrist Democrats and anarchists.) Recently, celebrants in New York started a Nasty Galentine, which is devoted to, they say, protesting with love.
In 2016, 53 percent of white women who voted cast their vote for Trump. Their reasons ranged from a dislike of Hillary Clinton to the (mistaken) belief that Donald Trump is a successful businessman. There were also a few outliers like this weird comment from a woman who said she voted for Trump in part because she couldn’t allow Bill Clinton back in the White House. That kind of drivel should haunt a writer to hell and back, she said sweetly.
Fortunately, even a casual review of the data says that white women’s support for Donald Trump is waning. You can tout a booming economy, but it isn’t reaching far enough to affect women below a certain income level. Add to that Trump’s racism, bullying, lying and overt woman-hating, the whole impeachment thing, the obstruction stuff, and you have a recipe for losing support even among people silly enough to have put their faith in Trump in the first place.
So, ladies? Throw a party. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Write some postcards. Call a few officials. Go on social media. Get some attention. Ovaries before brovaries. Uteruses before duderuses.
Susan Campbell teaches at University of New Haven and is the author of several books, including, most recently, “Frog Hollow: Stories From an American Neighborhood.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.