Last year was the first Valentine's Day for me and my boyfriend. Never one to fuss over the holiday - it's purely a commercial holiday, in my mind - I casually mentioned to him that I didn't want a big deal made over Valentine's. He agreed, and not another word was said of it.
But my casual attitude turned out to be easier said than kept.
Since I was covering Valentine's Day for Baltamour, the Baltimore Sun's dating and relationships blog, it was all Cupid, all the time. As I crafted gift guides and picked out card suggestions for those who chose to celebrate the holiday, I fell under its spell.
"It wouldn't hurt to get this small present for him," I told myself. "And it's not too much trouble to leave a little scavenger hunt in the house," I said as I wrote up riddles. And, after hearing about a Valentine's Day special at one of my favorite restaurants, I made a reservation.
I had gone off the deep end.
When the day arrived, the boyfriend and I were both sick, recovering from horrible colds, but I was determined that we would follow through. Dressed up and stuffed up, we had our Valentine's meal, though neither of us could taste it.
As we headed home, I was sure that I would have a card waiting for me. (My surprised beau had gratefully accepted his gifts earlier in the day.)
But as we prepared for bed, nothing. As we turned out the lights, nothing. It was hard to tamp down my disappointment, even though I had said that I didn't want a big hullabaloo. But I thought I'd at least get a card.
I moped the next few days, but kept my feelings to myself - well, and to my mom. I knew I couldn't blame my boyfriend, because he had listened to what I'd said: No big deal on Valentine's Day.
Eventually, I let it go and forgot about it, until my mom let my true feelings slip months later. Teasing me about my birthday, she said, "And don't let it end up like Valentine's Day!" Boyfriend looked at me. "But you said you didn't want anything for Valentine's Day!" Whoops.
This year will be better, mainly because I was clear and honest about my feelings, and my boyfriend figured out that a little celebration doesn't hurt.
"I'm about to book this spa package now," he said to me the other day. "Are you sure that this is OK?" I reassured him that it was a great idea.
Story told, I am still against Valentine's Day, at least in its current incarnation. From New Year's Day to Feb. 14, retailers are in a frenzy: Buy these flowers to show your love. Buy these chocolates to show you care. Buy this diamond necklace to make her feel special, even though millions of other women will receive it, too.
The holiday almost inevitably leads to disappointment, as one day rarely lives up to so much expectation.
Instead, the spirit behind the holiday should be expressed year-round. We should all take a page from the book of President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Despite their ever-busy lives, they still try to take time out every week - they call it "date night" - to spend a few hours just with each other.
That's what I aspire to: Valentine's Day 24/7. Or at least once a week.