Claire Ronan’s column from the Sligo Weekender issue of 12/02/2015
According to one legend, Valentine was a Christian martyr killed for standing up to the Roman emperor who would not allow soldiers to get married. Another says that Valentine was executed because of his Christian beliefs and signed his farewell note to his beloved ‘From your Valentine’. My favourite however is the belief that 14th February is the date the birds begin to pair, the day they choose their mate.
Whatever the history of Valentine’s Day, I have to admit that it is not my favourite day of the year. I can actually think of nothing worse than sitting in an overcrowded restaurant in the middle of February eating too much when, usually, I should be sticking to my latest diet plan, whatever that may be – and believe me it varies from year to year.
Much as I love sitting down and having a great chat with my husband, could we not do it at home with the kids in bed? Do you have to go out and buy flowers, chocolates and romantic presents?
My biggest treat would be a hair blow-dry – I know it’s ridiculous but I love having my hair blowdried.
Secretly I really did think I was alone in my thoughts until I started doing a little research and I was shocked when I learned that no, I am not alone in my dislike for Valentine’s Day. In fact there are a number of people who have much deeper reasons for not liking this Hallmark celebration I have outlined just some of them below but they might make you think.
I dislike Valentine’s Day because I am
Some single people I spoke to say that they hate all the mush, love hearts, flowers and commercialism of Valentine’s Day it highlights the fact that they are alone. Though some say they are true romantics and would love to spend the day with someone special, others say they are very happy being single, thank you very much. Other people’s pity at their status irritates them intensely and they feel they have to justify their contentment. One lady told me that this year she has decided to treat herself to something really nice this year from herself to herself. Now that’s a very good idea.
I dislike Valentine’s Day because, if I was honest things aren’t great between us –
Another group of people not feeling the love on the 14th are those who would say their relationship is not in a great place. If things aren’t great between you this is a day that highlights the sometimes unspoken problems you’re having . It can be a day that may lead to arguments, disappointment or even worse a reality check.
The giving or not giving of a Valentine present can cause huge problems and I would think the last thing you want to hear if you are in this place is about your neighbour, friend or whatever who received the 100 red roses, the weekend away or the homemade meal with all the candles lit. So if you are all happy clappy this Valentine’s Day maybe keep it to yourself.
I’ve recently been bereaved, divorced or separated –
This is another group of people that really need a bit attention on Valentine’s Day. This is a day that many struggle through, especially those that have been in any of these situations. A day when the emotions they are struggling to cope with ordinarily are highlighted and it can be very difficult. If you have anyone close to you in that situation it may be a good idea to pick up the phone to them and maybe include them in your plans for Saturday night, making sure that laughter is the main thing on the menu!
Oh no its Valentine’s Day I’m broke –
It’s February, the long awaited January pay packet has arrived (if you’re lucky) but there are too many demands after Christmas when the purse strings were loosened to afford to go out for a meal or buy those flowers, chocolates, perfume or whatever. It’s important to remember that there are lots of things that don’t cost money and spending time together is far more precious than any lavish present or meal out!
I can’t be honest about my relationship –
Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love but not all can do that openly. For people who are in a relationships that they don’t feel they can not share with their friends and family i.e. a lesbian or gay relationship and where they have not been able to come out its a day that highlights the fact that they are not able to be themselves. For those that are out, they are sometimes stared at in restaurants full of straight people. So this year, if you come across a gay couple sitting beside you, give them a smile!!
What struck me most of all writing this article and doing my research was how commercial Valentine’s Day has become and how much pressure it puts all sorts of people under and I remember my own personal experiences of watching the prettiest girl in the class with her twelve cards and sitting like a bad smell beside her with none, or the friend who was treated to a weekend away in a
lovely hotel when I was up to my neck in nappies, bottles and babies and all I actually wanted was the night’s sleep!!
I think it’s important to remember we do all have people we love in our lives and maybe this year be mindful of the ones who are feeling low on this years Valentine’s Day. Just pick up the phone or drop in to see how they are and telling someone in your life you love them be it a husband, partner, friend, parent, child or sibling is worth a lot more than any lavish gift or big display of affection.
I was at a funeral recently and the son of the lady who had died urged us all to pick up the phone that day and tell our loved ones how much we loved them so on the way home I rang my mum and told her how much I loved her, she’s a little deaf so I am sure every car on the Sligo/ Dublin road heard me.
Her response was to thank me for being a wonderful daughter and even though we are very close we talked about how lucky we are to have each other. I am delighted we had that chat and I know that no one can ever take that conversation away from me and I urge you this year on Valentine’s Day to ring and text your loved ones and tell them how much you love them and remember all the money lavish gifts will never be the same as spending time with loved ones is priceless… Tempus Fugit!