Heart with arrowFor a tart start to our series of essays about Valentine’s Day, we begin with a post by Roz the Unromantic. But even Roz admits that she once did feel the magic of the day. —Ed.

At some point in the relationship, every man I’ve ever gone out with has looked at me sadly and concluded, “You aren’t very romantic, are you?”

I am not. I am loving and funny and loyal. But romance has never been my thing.   

Hearts and flowers? Strolling hand-in-hand? Candlelit dinners for two? 

No thanks.

Love at first sight? Not for me. 

On the other hand, the very first time my sister met her future husband, she knew that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. She was just 18.

Larry was, undeniably, a catch.  Nice. Adorable. Sane. Stable. Jewish. Not to mention Harvard pre-med.   

But still …

“You’re so young!” I told my sister.  “Have fun! Shop around.”

“I don’t need to shop around,” she said.  

Apparently not. They just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary. 

This is a fabulous achievement, and they’re my favorite married couple. And yet, going through life yoked to another person like that, no matter how wonderful that person might be, is my personal idea of hell.

I’ve always been this way.  

When the other little girls were drawing pictures of bridal gowns in their school notebooks and dreaming about Mr. Right, my dream was to grow up, live by myself in a fabulous Manhattan penthouse, and write books. (Except during my Emma Peel “Avengers” phase, when I wanted to grow up, chase bad guys with a debonair partner, and effortlessly throw people who got in my way across the room.) 

Here’s how un-romantic I was: After Snow White aired on The Wonderful World of Disney and all my 12-year-old pals were singing, “Some Day My Prince Will Come,” I refashioned the lyrics so they’d apply to me. 

 “Someday my prince will come,” I sang, “ and I’ll tell him to fuck himself.”

Despite all of this, as a child I adored Valentine’s Day. 

Every year my sister and I would spend hours crafting handmade valentines for every kid in class from every art supply we could get our hands on. Construction paper. Glitter. Ribbons. Doilies. Stamps. Stickers.  

Each was a personalized work of art. If your pal Suzie loved Barbies, you’d draw them on her valentine. Patty was into horses? You’d festoon her valentine with Palomino stickers. Doug, who loved Mad magazine, got an Alfred E. Neuman valentine. For our very best friends we composed poems of the “Roses are red/violets are blue” variety.   

On Valentine’s Day the class took turns going around the room delivering valentines to the shoebox “mailboxes” on each desk. Then we opened them.    

What a great moment! It was nothing but treasure. Glittering store-bought cards. Elaborately crafted handmade cards. Vintage old-timey valentines. Dozens of little heart-shaped candies.  Poems and notes and messages from your best friends. Sprinkle-covered heart-shaped cookies. Pink-iced cupcakes.     

It was something I looked forward to all year. But it wasn’t about romance. What did we know about romance? We were in elementary school. For us, it was a celebration of friendship.

When we hit junior high, Valentine’s Day stopped being about friendship and began being about True Love. And I stopped caring about it.     

Mark, the man in my life, is more romantic than I am. (Everyone is.) After years of patiently waiting for me to come around, he has come to realize that, as wonderful as he is, I’m never going to wake up one morning, look deeply into his eyes, and start singing “You are so beautiful to me.” 

But we do exchange tokens of our affection on Valentine’s Day. 

Because he’s an artist, and bookish, I’ll get him a pricey art book I know he wants but is too frugal to buy himself. 

For years, he gave me a Whitman’s Sampler each Valentine’s Day, until I finally confessed that I don’t actually like Whitman’s Samplers. “I save them until the candy gets stale,” I told him. “Then I throw them out.” 

So now he makes me a gift—a painting, a collage. or a hand-crafted, three-dimensional piece.  Something creative and unique, just for me. 

Which, come to think of it, is a lot like those handmade valentines I so loved as a kid.

So, to a certain extent, with Mark I’ve come full circle. 

And yet I sometimes think about trying to reclaim the joy I used to feel on Valentine’s Day. Why does it have to be exclusively about Romantic Love? Why can’t those of us who just aren’t into that emotion (or who are between partners) be inspired by our grade-school selves and celebrate the friends we love? 

Not that I plan to go around handing out glittery handmade construction paper hearts to all my pals. 

Although, perhaps I should.  

I’m thinking of going with something even more outside the box. I’ve consulted the Heifer International website, and I see that I can express my appreciation for our friendship on this special day by purchasing a llama for a third-world family in your name.  

Or, if we’re not quite that close, how about a hen? 

We non-romantic types can start a new Valentine’s Day tradition! While others exchange romantic gifts and walk hand-in-hand on a moonlit beach, the rest of us can say, “Thank God for our friends,” and exchange celebratory poultry.

Roses are red/violets are blue/I’m so glad we’re friends /here’s a chicken for you!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Image via Vectorportal.com

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  • Stephen February 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    could I get my chicken cooked???????

  • stephanie February 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I LOVE this essay, Roz, because I loved those elementary school cards and making cards for the whole class! Although I am quite a romantic married to someone who is not as far as V Day goes, so every year, now, I write and draw 14 brand new love cartoons and post them on my blog as my way to celebrate!

  • wsm February 6, 2013 at 1:23 am

    agree totally, on the hand-crafted gifts, so much more meaningful, also, fun /funny essay, parts of it just cracked me up

  • Kelly February 6, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Roses are red, violets are blue, this is a great essay, and, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’m with you.

  • Ruth Nathan February 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Well, this brought back tons of memories. There was a time, not sure when, when you could make valentines for just the kids in your class you liked. We must be talking the 50s. This made Valentine’s Day sheer horror. Horror! But then, sometime in the 60s, everyone had to make a valentine for each person in the class. What relief. For those of you who didn’t experience the earlier days, consider yourself lucky. But, truth be told, for those of you who got a valentine from everyone in your entire class (you youngsters out there), you are probably feeling a bit bifurcated: While you loved getting all those cards, you probably developed a certain kind cynicism about the day. Don’t. Better to go with what Roz admits to: just lovin’ making those cards–friends or not.

  • Isabella February 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    My son has a tradition of giving a share of a Heifer animal (this year it was bees) to his godmother every year. I don’t know if we will do that for Valentine’s, but yes – I do miss the days when he was little and everyone in the class got a card. Although – I have to confess – many times we bought the little ready made packets of cards. Great essay, Roz. Brought back some fun memories.

  • Anne Beidler February 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Well darling, You know I am a hopeless romantic from way back BUT I would love a gift chicken anytime. Chickens are the “gift that keeps on giving”. And that is totally romantic!!! Love you, Anne

  • Mark Lowe February 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm


  • Richard Bready February 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    We got married by a judge who was wearing a Mickey Mouse watch. That summed it up. He had to remind us, when he finished, that we were supposed to kiss each other.
    Heifer is a great idea, and it suits Easter too: baby chickens, ducks, and rabbits.

  • hillsmom February 5, 2013 at 11:54 am

    The cats give me valentines. My DH will probably blow it off as he did our (gasp) 48th. wedding anniversary last month. He still hasn’t mentioned it…so it goes.

    When I was a child, everyone in the class had to be given a valentine of some type. Of course, the most popular kids got the fanciest ones.

    Roz, kitties said they would like some chicken.

  • Diane Dettmann February 5, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Teaching first grade for 18 years, Valentine’s Day became my favorite “party” day. With their shoeboxes splattered with construction paper hearts and “love” scribbled along the sides in red crayon, those antsy first graders could barely stay in their chairs. I can still hear the squeal of those high pitched voices and see their flushed red cheeks as they shoved candy conversation hearts into their mouths and read the goofy valentine messages on their cards. Not sure if their flushed cheeks were the result of a sugar high or embarrassment triggered by a classmate’s “I Luv U” scribbled on a card. They loved the “friends and fun day” and so did I! Roz, you may be onto something.

  • jody February 5, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Ha! My man and I are not romantic either but we’ve been together for for most of the last 40 years. Maybe someday we will honor this commitment in a special way but I doubt it’ll be on valentines day. My best memories of the day are also elementary school. Such fun! But then I have friends who hated that day because no one gave them a card. Kids can be so mean sometimes…….Id love to give everyone a chicken!

  • liza February 5, 2013 at 8:49 am

    You and I are cut from similar cloth! I did love those crafty days at school on valentine’s day. But there was too much stress associated with it! Making it into a friendship day is a great idea.