How to Go From Better-Than-Nothing to WAY Better-Than-Nothing on Valentines Day


Today is Valentine’s Day. My only real excitement on February 14 lies in waking to squeals of delight from my children upon finding the treats I left out for them the night before. This morning, my daughter was particularly excited by the Peppa Pig Beanie Baby I got for her, which brought a big smile to my face because I totally knew I hit the jackpot when I found it in the card store. Apparently, pigs with British accents are all the rage for toddlers nowadays.

The kids’ enthusiasm wore off after about ten minutes (it isn’t exactly Christmas, you know), and then my husband and I exchanged our own treats. After seven years of marriage, I’ve come to expect very little on these cheesy Hallmark Holidays. I find that it successfully avoids unnecessary disappointment and marital arguments. He handed me his classic Valentine’s Day safety net trifecta of roses/card/candy, and I forked over my own card for him. Kiss, kiss, Happy Valentine’s Day, and back to the regular daily routine.

I had to laugh a few minutes later when we were watching the morning news and they were doing a segment on making last minute V-Day gifts look like they were planned out for weeks. The last line of the piece read: “and whatever you do, avoid that cheesy drugstore flowers and candy combo!” To which we both laughed and I added “unless you’ve been married for seven years.”

My husband has never been a big gift-giver or an over-the-top romantic. He proposed to me in the car while driving on the highway, saying “so I was talking to my aunt and she thinks that, since you’re pregnant, maybe we should just get married.” I cried immediately, obviously not because I was so moved by his gesture. And I cried all the way to our dreamy City Hall wedding a few weeks later.

But I don’t blame him. Failed birth control combined with the need for better health insurance never does create the perfect environment for romance. But he set the bar pretty low from the start, and I have learned that the whole mushy-gushy, sweep-her-off-her feet shit just isn’t a requirement, and its absence does not a bad marriage make.

While my little less-than-fairytale romance isn’t exactly one for the books, I’m 100% sure I’m not the only wife who doesn’t bother with high hopes on most gift-giving occasions. Even those who didn’t exchange vows in the same building where ex-cons go to have their urine tested for drugs.

But here’s the thing: since so many married wives have low expectations on Valentine’s Day, it at least gives their husbands an opportunity to catch them off guard by doing something seriously sweet once in a while. I think that, sometimes, guys should toss their “better than nothing” flowers and candy out the window of the same car they proposed in, and do something extra special for the special ladies in their lives. And really, they don’t even have to think that far outside of the box to do it.

Thus I present to you my five, fantastic, WAYYY-better-than-nothing gifts for wives on Valentine’s Day. If there are actually any guys who read my blog, be prepared to slap yourself in the head, coulda-had-a-V8-style, for not thinking of these nifty gifties on your own.

Jewelry. It’s expensive, so I think husbands like to avoid it because they can get away with their wife thinking “oh we can’t afford that right now”. But no one’s telling you to hit her with a diamond from Tiffany’s. It’s 2015, and the timeless gift of jewelry comes in all sizes, shapes, and price tags. From crystal to silver to cubic-Z: it’s ALL better than nothing.

Lingerie. You would expect this type of gift when you first start dating, but it does seem like the last thing a married mother could ever want. Right? Wrong. Think about it. Receiving that type of gift from a husband shows that, after all these years, he still sees his wife as being just as sexy as she was when they were first dating. It’s pretty flattering. She’ll feel like maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t look so bad for a married mom after all. Plus, it might be something extra to look forward to on Valentine’s NIGHT. Wink wink.

Wine or champaign. I mean, if he’s going for an edible gift, it shouldn’t be a gigantic box full of little chocolate regrets. In fact, if you pair some bubbly with #2 on my list, it’s really one hell of a win/win.

Dinner. Either cook it, order it, or take her out for it. Whatever happens, just make sure she doesn’t have to deal with it for at least one night. And for pete’s sake, do the damn dishes after it’s done. And if there’s time, feel free to also sweep, mop, dust, do the laundry, make the beds, scrub the toilets, and clean out the fridge while you’re at it.

Be an even better Dad than usual. There is so much joy in seeing a father make his kids feel special– when he spends time with them, plays with them, shows them how important they are. So on Valentine’s Day, go the extra mile for the kids, too. Take them out to lunch, make a card for Mom together, maybe even pick up a special gift for them too. They’re the littlest Valentines, after all. And honestly, that’s probably one of the most romantic things a man can do for his wife. Because there is NOTHING sexier than a really, really good dad.

Valentine’s Day, Shmalentine’s Day


My aversion to Valentine’s Day dates all the way back to elementary school.

In the third grade, I got sick and threw up on Valentine’s Day.  The holiday literally made me hurl. Not a big deal for most (normal) children, but for a child plagued by severe emetophobia (defined as an “intense, irrational fear or anxiety pertaining to vomiting”—look it up, it’s a REAL THING), this was pretty bad news in terms of old V-Day.  For the following three or four years, I became terrified whenever I’d start to see little hearts and cupids taped decoratively around my classroom and neighbor’s windows.  The anxiety would mount higher and higher as February 14 drew near, and when it arrived I’d spend the day in a cold sweat, praying to make it out alive (and puke-free).  Weird, I know.  But whose childhood isn’t?

When junior high reared its ugly head, Valentine’s Day was a whole new kind of unpleasant.  In my school, some genius thought it would be a fine idea to sell balloons for a few days leading up to V-Day, then have them delivered to recipients’ classrooms on the big day and handed out in front of the entire class – much to the delight of those with adoring boyfriends, “BFF”s, or perhaps secret admirers.  Sweet, right?  Not for the other 75% of the class who received nothing more than a crushing blow to their already dwindling self-esteem.  You can probably guess which percentage I belonged to.

Valentine’s Day.  Making junior high even shittier than it already is.

The classroom balloon torture has its own grown-up version for the workplace, by the way.  I call it “Nice Roses, Bitch.”  Check out these priceless moments from season two’s Valentines Day episode of The Office that sum up this phenomenon well.  Pam is literally throwing flowers and chocolate at Phyllis after the delivery guy disappoints her once again, and Meredith leers at Phyllis’s gagworthy display of gifts while sipping her vodka-laced Subway soda.  God, I miss that show.




Once you have children, Valentine’s Day becomes just another annoying holiday that you have to pretend is “fun” for their sake.  Yay kids!  Let’s make red, heart-shaped cookies!  And red, heart-shaped cards!  And hang red, heart-shaped decorations!

Can someone please find a red, heart-shaped gun and shoot me with it?

When my son started preschool, I found out about these pointless little Valentines that the kids hand out to each other in class nowadays.  Here’s what happens: Mom heads over to Hallmark, forks over ten bucks for a box of cheap (HEART-SHAPED!!!) Spiderman or Cinderella cards (which are essentially glorified name tags), then goes home and writes one out for each child in the class.  On Valentine’s Day, the teacher puts all the little “cards” in each preschooler’s book bag at the end of the day.  When the child arrives home, all cards are promptly removed from the bag by Mom and offered enthusiastically to the child, who then shrugs disinterestedly and asks if he or she can go watch TV.  The child leaves the room, the tags go in the recycling bin, and much time, trees, and money have been wasted once again.

So here’s Valentine’s Day to me, in a nutshell.  Flowers die. Chocolate is fattening.  Kids don’t give a shit about romance.  Men are usually idiots who never get it right.  Women are usually even bigger idiots for expecting them to get it right in the first place.  And Cupid? Is a naked little perv who shoots people in the ass.

Here’s a fun, little-known fact:  Saint Valentine DROPPED DEAD on Valentine’s Day.  Wikipedia that shit, it’s true.

Another fun fact: divorce lawyers report a 40% increase in new business each year right after Valentine’s Day.  ‘Cuz nothing says “be mine” like a stack of freshly signed divorced papers!

Guess what’s red and NOT heart-shaped? 


I think I’ll go have some.

Oh, Dwight.  I hope you and Angela are frolicking happily om a beet farm somewhere right now with your seven children and Cousin Mose.

Oh, Dwight. I hope you and Angela are frolicking happily on a beet farm somewhere right now with your seven children and Cousin Mose.