Last year Redbook Columist Aaron Traister complained that he had a problem with Valentines Day because it just seemed so cliché. He didn’t like dealing with what he thought was yet another Hallmark-created holiday (and by the way, for all of you who regularly get down on “Hallmark Holidays,” Hallmark didn’t create them, it’s just that the folks in Kansas City recognized that a lot of people were looking for cards to help celebrate them, and were very successful in fulfilling that need). He was looking for a way to celebrate Valentines Day with his wife that didn’t involve candy and overpriced flowers and all the other stuff that Big Romance pushes on us.
My response? Get a grip. What’s wrong with a little cliché every now and then? I’m willing to bet that he’s one of millions of guys who sits in front of the TV every year with his beer and large assortment of “guy snacks” as he watches the Super Bowl. And don’t try to tell me that Big Beverage, Big Food, and Big Sports aren’t trying to push all of that consumption on them. It’s the same thing every year – lots of food while sitting and watching a football game – so why isn’t that considered cliché?
Or is it not cliché if it’s something that’s near and dear to your heart?
But let’s talk about another cliché: birthdays and birthday parties. I wonder if he passes on them because they’re so cliché, or whether he gets into all the food, and cake…and presents. I know that I sure enjoy celebrating my birthday…especially since the tradition with me, my mother, and my sister is that you get a check for your age in the birthday card. What’s not to like about that? If that’s a tired old cliché, then I say should have more clichés!
Heck…Valentines Day is like a birthday party…with sex! And who’s gonna complain about that? (OK…you in the back row…sit down and shut up.)
Really though, so the tradition is that it’s supposed to be about chocolate and flowers and romance. Is that a big problem? I figure that there are lots of ways to deal with those that aren’t all that cliché at all.
Let’s start with the chocolates. There’s no rule that says it has to be a box of Whitmans. It could be a gift bag full of Hershey’s Kisses and Hugs (and wouldn’t it be really cool if they made…oh, never mind). That’s what I gave Cheryl last year…and then found out that she really doesn’t like the Hugs. That was fine with me, because I love them and ate them for her.
But I know what you’re saying, you’re saying “Those little red and pink-wrapped candies are still just soooo cliché. Do I really have to do that?” You’re hopeless, aren’t you? OK, how’s this for original…find out what kind of candy she likes…you know, like what kind of candy bar she likes…and get her a bagful of them. Imagine the look on her face you present her with a huge gift bag full of Snickers or Caramelos or Nestlés Crunch bars. That’s chocolate…and it’s different. And make sure that you keep your mitts off of what’s supposed to be her candy.
What about the flowers? Sorry, I can’t help you there. That’s because, quite frankly, I’d love to send Cheryl flowers but I can’t. I can’t send them to her at work (which I’d love to do, in order to show all her colleagues how wonderful I am) because she works the night shift, when no one’s delivering. I can’t send them to her during the day because she’s sleeping, and she’d have my head if she was from her bed untimely ripped, to answer the door from the flower delivery guy.
Oh wait…bring some home myself…in my hands? Wow. I never thought of that. I could just stop by the supermarket on the way home and bring her some flowers. What a concept.
Now I have to admit that I’m sort of lucky when it comes to things like Valentines Day and anniversaries. That’s because while I’ve been planning for weeks in advance, Cheryl usually forgets until she sees the present from me sitting on the bed. Then she decides to take me out to dinner at our favorite restaurant.
And that’s almost as good as two checks for my age.