When you mention Valentine’s Day, put me on the side of the line that says, “I’d rather it didn’t exist.” Still, let it be noted that there was a time when I anticipated this day with the feeling it seems intended to evoke. The memory of those years makes me happy to join our other WVFC contributors on the topic of My Best Valentine’s Day.
Only it wasn’t a day. It was an era in the early 70s when my now-husband and I were a new couple, new roommates and newly married. No one would describe us as wise in those days so I have no idea how our coda for celebrating February 14 came about, but I do know that it allowed for the very best expressions of caring.
It was the 14-dollar rule. The gifts we gave each other could not cost more than $14, and the dinner we had that evening could not cost more than two times that. Oh, the pressure this concept removed. Oh, the inventiveness it spawned.
Remember, there was no online shopping in those days. Each of us would hit toy stores, musty “collectible” shops, the dusty dens of secondhand- book dealers, and the five-and-dimes that time had forgotten but the malls hadn’t yet erased. Each year, the gifts were unwrapped with pure joy, because they spoke of real effort and real recognition of what was important to us. Each year, we ate in a dive or a college hangout, feeling like renegades or young people without a clue about the working world. It was under 28 bucks’ worth of fun and freedom every time.
I end without comparison between then and now. I believe women of our age have all the celebratory powers they ever did, and I believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day by giving to the unremembered now. Still, I’m happy that this topic caused me to look back at the simplicity of a time when Valentine’s Day was different and to remember that there was real joy in the ways that having little offered so much.