Most of us know that Valentine's was created not by some mystical event or act of Congress but by a greeting card company. For those who bask in this day of love, it doesn't matter. What counts is that romance comes their way.
If you're without a partner, this day can be trying. Remember, there is no shame in being alone. Those who wait for the right person, rather than settling, usually enjoy their togetherness more. Some people relish in being the Grinch of Valentine's and muddle through this day with a bit of attitude. One group actually celebrates 2/14 as Quirky Alone Day, where they gather and extol the praises of being single.
Bottom line is that everybody gets to choose how they celebrate the day, and no one is wrong. One of my family members hates that he is commanded to spend a bunch of money on overpriced flowers, take his time finding an appropriate gift, and go to dinner with 50,000 of his closest friends because someone else decided that he should. It just isn't how he wants to express his love to the woman he will spend the rest his life with. Fortunately for her, he's inventive.
If you are into it, there are myriad ways to express your feelings without going broke or hurting someone's feelings. So how can you make this day magical for your sweetheart even if you are put off by the commercialism? It's my experience that real romance requires a little creativity, and you won't find it hard to come up with plans that will make the day special for both of you.
My other half thinks it should be a national holiday and we'd all get to take the day off. That isn't going to happen for most of us, but here are a few ideas that may help you aim Cupid's bow in the right direction.
Since Valentine's Day is on a Monday this year, celebrating over the weekend makes sense. You might want to go to a B&B or take the camper to the beach or the mountains.
Just one night away can be a very romantic and energizing experience for the two of you. You don't have to spend a mint, you can bring your own trappings (don't forget the bubbly) to where ever you are staying, spend the evening in each other's arms and smooch the night away.
Yes, this is an adult evening, and leaving the kids at home is healthy for your romantic relationship. This day is more about the two of you, so make your love the focus of the evening.
Personally, I'm renting a romantic film, making my own card, cooking dinner, uncorking a bottle of Champagne, and showering my partner with affection. In these tough times, I'm also of the opinion that a single rose can be as romantic as a dozen.
It's almost a guarantee that little ideas like these will make your Valentine twitter with delight.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." E-mail him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com