As a writer, Valentine’s Day can be great fun. I have so many interesting characters who can do all manner of fun and interesting things for the holiday–or, in the case of Karantiri, I can make up an equivalent holiday that they can then celebrate. (Or more than one–one for the humans and one for the elves!) But personally, I don’t have much use for the holiday. Maybe that’s because I’m bitter and single (possible) but I’m certainly not nearly as antagonistic toward the holiday as I used to be. (I used to dress entirely in black, and fully shoot for the Goth look. No joke. I should find a picture.)
And I’m starting to think that it might be because I’m a writer, that it’s changed.
I’ve only ever had a significant other of any variety on Valentine’s Day once. He was in a dinner theatre production that night, so my “present” was that he got my ticket to the event for me. And that was perfect! I was planning on going to it anyway, so it was a nice gesture for him. I’ve never really been one to need or expect huge teddy bears or flowers or chocolates. Not that I’d turn them down, of course 😉 but it’s all just trappings for something bigger. One day shouldn’t be the focus of all your shows of love and affection, just as your wedding shouldn’t be viewed as the best day of your wedded life. What does that leave for the rest of your time together? Everything to just stagnate and go downhill from there? Now, on the other hand, I’m not going to push the usual response I hear, of “every day should be like Valentine’s” because that doesn’t really mean anything, either. I don’t have trouble with having a day that celebrates love and relationships. In fact, I’ve always been fond of the Eastern approach–the balance of Valentine’s Day with White Day. There, Valentine’s is a day for women to gift their friends and loved ones with chocolates (because yes, there is a delineation to do both), and then a month later on White Day, the recipients return the favor with their own sweets and gifts. It takes out elementary school Valentine gifting concept (that it’s not just for romance) and makes it much more balanced. Over here, it comes off as so overwhelmingly the “get your girlfriend something big and amazing or you’re sleeping on the porch” day.
That being said, I do still love to give my characters the fun, big, interesting celebrations. Maybe it’s quiet and covert, like Jade and Allen have to be. Maybe it’s flashy and extravagant, like Manhattan and Damian could be. And still maybe it could be a more somber occasion, remembering a lost loved one, like it could be for Alistair remembering Julia. Maybe someone out there is hoping for a loved one, dreaming of the perfect holiday with their crush, like Kenna might do over either James or Alan. The possibilities are endless. (This is making me want to write one… Of course, you all saw the evidence of that during Fiction Friday last week, didn’t you?)
In the end, I think that’s the best way to treat the holiday–the same way in “real life” as we would in fiction. This is a plot piece, something we can use to move the action (literal or metaphorical!) forward. Let your characters be creative, and let yourself be as well. One recent Valentine’s Day, I had the perfect day out, where I got breakfast and donuts at my favorite places bought for me by my perfect date: me. I was the perfect date and I didn’t expect much in return. It was lovely.
So here are some virtual friend-chocolates for all of you, my lovely literary luminaries. Have a happy holiday, no matter who you’re with. You’ve always got a Valentine in me.