A Better Way Than Valentine’s Day


Listen. Valentine’s Day is dumb, and you know it.

You know this holiday is a giant marketing scheme. You know it’s emotional manipulation toward loneliness-avoidance and therapeutic spending. You know prices are jacked up on everything pink or red or sparkly. And you know this holiday is directly targeted to spoil women, and not in the “women are valuable” equality sort of way — more like “women are selfish” stereotypes that hurt women and leave men broke and frustrated. So why do we keep doing this? Why are we letting advertising executives dictate when and how we show affection? There’s got to be a better way.

I’ve never been one for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

The first year that I had a boyfriend in February, I was 15. He got me a lamp. (THAT’S RIGHT, RYAN, I AM CALLING YOU OUT FOR GETTING ME A LAMP FOR VALENTINE’S DAY.) Okay, it was a pretty lamp. It’s actually still in my old room at my parents’ house, though we don’t speak of its origins. But seriously, a lamp. I don’t blame the kid, though. I mean, what are 15-year-olds supposed to get each other for a holiday celebrating everlasting love? It’s awkward, and gift-giving should never be a pain or something you do just because someone else said you’re supposed to.

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day either. They never went out, unless Valentine’s Day happened to fall on a Saturday, because that would mean February 13th was a Friday. You see, my parents’ first date in 1975 was on Friday the 13th. My dad proposed on Friday, November 13, 1979, and they were married on Friday, June 13, 1980. Anytime there is a Friday the 13th — regardless what month it is — they claim it as their “anniversary” and celebrate their un-superstitious love. 

My adorable parents through the years!

Why make a big fuss about a day Hershey’s needs you to buy chocolate between Christmas and Easter an arbitrary day with all sorts of rules and expectations that are actually contrary to showing love itself? If you love someone, celebrate it on a day that is meaningful to YOU — the anniversary of your first date or the first time you said “I love you,” or for your kids, maybe the day you found out you were pregnant or heard their heartbeat for the first time. 

Valentine’s Day is not helping our society love each other more or better, only more expensively and perhaps more begrudgingly. Love is a gift freely given, and gifts of love should also be freely given, without conditions or expectations or guilt-trips. So let’s ditch the Valentine’s drama and celebrate the people you love on your own special day, maybe even Friday the 13th.

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Mary Beth Unthank
Knoxville born and bred, my love for this area is deep and true! I'm a working-turned-stay-at-home mom to 4 kiddos from elementary to high school. My husband and I live in Knoxville where we both lead nonprofit organizations and are trying to become Love in our community. I love watching my kids learn something new, cooking for other people (but not for myself), and telling myself I'm a #fitmom when I go to the gym like once a month. I'm a bottle-feeding, disposable diapering, public-schooling (other than the time I homeschooled for a minute) mom with the stereotypical chill attitude of moms with large(r) broods. I love meeting new people, but I talk way too much and laugh when I'm uncomfortable. If you don't mind long stories and bad jokes, we are sure to be friends! Follow my family adventures on my blog Unthank You Very Much


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