Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day tends to trigger an almost violent reaction in people who cannot stand the often forced happiness and lovey dovey nature of the two days.
I can see why. If you’ve been dumped or have been single for a while, not through choice but because there doesn’t seem to be anyone decent within a ten mile radius (basically the whole of Malta), then heart-shaped balloons are bound to make you break out in hives.
It doesn’t help that at the moment everyone seems to have I will always love you on a loop as a tribute to Whitney Houston.
But it’s not only those who are miserable and alone who hate Valentine’s Day. A lot of people in perfectly happy relationships cannot stand the pressure bombarding them from every angle to be romantic and plan elaborate surprises for their other half. Not everyone goes in for that kind of thing, and not everyone needs to buy roses/soft toys/red lingerie/chocolates to “prove” that they love the person in their life.
I sometimes wonder what love has got to do with some of the traditional Valentine gifts. Flowers I can understand but surely the chocolates will simply make your woman fat…is that what you really want? Red lingerie is a gift which a man gives to himself really, in the hope that his woman will actually don this hooker-style outfit and he will get lucky. As for soft toys, sure they are cute, but only when you’re a teenager. And honestly, want on earth is the use of a red balloon?
Sometimes all it takes is a thoughtful gesture to let someone you know you care. But of course, a thoughtful gesture takes some effort, while buying something gaudy and red is often the easiest way out. Especially this year with mobile Valentine vans at every corner selling enormous teddy bears and other merchandise. One shop even has someone dressed up as a huge red heart walking up and down the pavement to attract customers. I hope he’s being paid decently at least for having to suffer that kind of humiliation.
I think the worse possible gift is one which is bought begrudgingly and half-heartedly, with a “here I bought you something, now don’t complain” kind of attitude. I often hear men (yes, sorry it is usually men) who say, “xtrajtilha xi haga biex naghlqilha halqha” (I bought her a gift to shut her up). There’s nothing like resentment to take the fizzle out of the moment .
It was pointed out to me today that women are at fault here too, of course, always expecting the man to make the first move. Which is true; romance should not be a one way street. Most of all though, romance does not have to come in the form of a Valentine cliche either.