Valentine’s Day is for the birds

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, which means today is the day I need to apologize to my husband for being so ridiculous as to have expectations but not to share them. Most women do that. I don’t know why we do this thing, but it’s dumb. And I could stand to change it.

Yesterday afternoon at work, a friend told me her boyfriend had the audacity to ask if she wanted to do something, anything for Valentine’s Day. I work in an office with a 4:1 ratio of women to men. The men around here know from working in a female-dominated office that Valentine’s Day is very much A Thing. One male colleague makes it a point to arrive early every Valentine’s Day with several bunches of grocery storeflowers. He washes out dozens of soft drink cans and water bottles from the recycle bin. Then he cuts down all the flowers into small bunches. Every woman in the office receives flowers on her desk from Tim when she arrives at work. Yesterday morning when I got to my desk, a Diet Coke can containing four white miniature carnations was waiting for me.

This morning, Feb. 15, I’m struck that I probably showed more appreciation for the carnations in the recycled soda can than I did for the thoughtful (albeit practical) gift my husband purchased knowing how much I love to ride my bike–two pairs of new bike shorts which he found on super clearance at REI and which he himself would have loved to receive. But me, well. I’m me. Which means my first instinct for a gift-giving occasion is, “Oh, yay! Brandon is going to give me something totally unnecessary that I would not be comfortable buying for myself! And I don’t have to feel guilty!” Except, if he had purchased something unnecessary, pretty and impractical, I would most certainly have felt guilty and possibly returned the item after making an executive decision that we could not afford it. And since he went the practical route, I felt typically stupid and annoyed myself with thoughts that after four Valentine’s Day celebrations, he still chooses the practical route, though I am always a little disappointed that he goes that direction.

The unexpected is always most appreciated. It’s the expected that typically falls short. So I suppose the lesson here is that either way, practical or otherwise, I would have been a little deflated no matter what gift I received. And that is a problem not with him but with me and my heart.

I loved the flowers…lavender tulips he arranged in a vase we received as a wedding gift, which I greatly prefer to the typical red rose bouquet most identifiable as a Valentine’s Day floral choice. And he thoughtfully purchased a kitchen item I’ve been requesting since my birthday last summer as a little bonus gift. And I think I will enjoy having a new pair of cycling shorts. What I really need to do is address the fact that I’ve fallen prey to a lie that says only certain types of gifts are acceptable or romantic. But the truth is, bike shorts are romantic because they represent us and our relationship and the things we enjoy together. It would have been really dumb for him to give me the typical crap that corporations are throwing at us every year. What would I have done with a spa day or jewelry anyway?