I have a confession to make. In middle school, I hated Valentine’s Day. I hated it so much that my friend Lauren and I made a plan to wear all black on Valentine’s Day. We were determined show everyone just how much this commercial celebration of hokey Hallmark love disgusted us, and in our teenaged minds, wearing dark clothes was, like, a totally huge and powerful statement.
Oi. When I look back at 13-year-old Alicia, I feel a mixture of nostalgia, amusement, and a big desire to give her a hug, a cookie, and a chill pill. But I think part of being 13 is learning about who you are and what you value, and I had to take strong stances about trivial things then in order to learn what it would mean to take a real stand about important issues later in life. Boycotting Valentine’s Day cards and chocolates in middle school made very little impact, but making conscious choices about what industries and values to support with my dollar makes an impact now.
A decade later, I look at Valentine’s Day with the tolerant smile of someone who thinks you’re a little silly but kind of endearing all the same. When you love someone, of course it’s wonderful to share your appreciation. I have no problem with people who want to celebrate Valentine’s Day by buying jewelry, flowers, and chocolate galore–you do you! It’s nice that a day is set aside to remind people to show their love…but I sure hope you show that appreciation year-round as well. Is buying a bouquet of flowers one day a year the be-all-end-all? Or is it more important that you do the dishes every night because you know they hate it, or you leave a note on their car just to say “I love you and you’re awesome” on any given day?
My only real issue with Valentine’s Day is the subtle pressure to equate spending money with showing love. Maybe it’s the radical homemaker in me, but I believe that thoughtful expressions of love, romantic or otherwise, are entirely possible without spending a dime. I do love love, and one of my favorite things to do is remind people how much I appreciate them. I try to do it often but don’t always succeed…so why not treat this day as an opportunity to share? This year, my Valentine’s Day celebration is coming entirely from the heart–and from my overflowing craft supply stash!
I have always loved writing letters and collecting all kinds of stationery and cards to make each note special. I have a huge collection of paper and craft supplies that has steadily grown over the years, so for the past year, I have been on a stationery-buying ban. Granted, I have slipped a few times (letterpressed cards are so cute!), but I have succeeded in paring down my stash quite a bit. Technically I guess I did spend money awhile ago buying all these supplies, but because there was no outlay in February 2013, I still feel a sense of frugal victory.
Valentine’s Day 2013 moved my stash minimizing project forward by leaps and bounds. To make custom valentines, I used plain white cardstock, stickers, origami paper, pinking shears, and some cards with silly phrases that I received as a stocking stuffer. My collection of Anne Taintor postcards featuring vintage images and cheeky phrases about love and sex made funny, perfectly suitable cards for friends.
While digging through my stash, I found plenty of cards I’ve amassed over the years from various artists and presses. One of my favorite cards came from Arthur’s Plaid Pants (“Much love for your mustache, and of course, your beard”), which features many creative cards about love across state lines and (facial) hair colors. Not to turn this post into even more of a confessional about middle school Alicia, but in 7th grade, I earned the nickname Popeye for my blazin’ bicep guns. I saw this inside joke reflected in another great card made by Sapling Press that says “I love you like Popeye loves spinach”, so that one is going out this year too.
Making and writing cards for friends brought a huge amount of joy to my holiday preparations–and organization to my craft drawer. My other concessions to Valentine’s Day will include pestering Kerry to see what kind of amazing dessert she whips up to celebrate and eating some decadent dark chocolate that may or may not be heart shaped and peanut butter filled.
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Are there certain things you like to buy or make to show others you care? The holiday is almost upon us, so I’d love some more ideas to celebrate in a low-key, non-consumer way.