Saturday, 13 February 2010

What Valentine's Day means to me.


Can love be summed up with a red helium filled plastic balloon, a rose in a tube girt by curling ribbon or a miniature teddy bear holding a red satin heart? Or is it a mass produced card on virgin pulp from one of our slowly diminishing old growth forest? Do we really need more of this disposable excess to share our love?

 After being married for nearly 10 years I can honestly say that if my husband bought me anything resembling the plastic appropriation of loving gestures above I would think he'd gone mad.

Valentines Day for some is redemptive, the day when the slate gets wiped clean by elaborate displays of consumerist affection. Where a wife can say to herself "See? Look how much he loves me?" and show friends and neighbours how magnanimous her partner has been. She must be truly loved.

This Valentine's Day I have put a lot of thought into what it is from a consumer point of view and a marketing point of view, and essentially from a retail perspective, cupid's special day is another punctuation mark in the story of the financial year, shortly after shoppers, recovering from Christmas expenditure, can part with their money once again.

For me, Valentine's Day is something I think about and create graphics for (I mean hearts, angels, flowers, lace and diamonds are fun and pretty to work with) but don't really get "into". I like the idea, but frankly I need more than one day of the year to feel loved.

I didn't get my husband anything this year. I have spent the entire year saying I loved him with support, simple but loving gestures and surrounding him with the cocoon of a happy family. I said, "I didn't get you anything" to which he replied "I didn't want anything". We smiled at each other, and kissed. I got up and made him a latte in bed.

My husband bought me a card, on my eftpos card, along with a candle I asked him to by to make my office smell nice. An office for which he gave up his Saturday, that he helped me set up, configure the wiring, move the furniture and organise.

The card is a 100% recycled card, printed with soy ink and of which, 10% of the proceeds go to Conservation International and Climate Solutions. The outside of the card has the Irish proverb "When I count my blessings I count you twice." with a picture of salmon swimming upstream. Inside it reads "Thanks again and again." and my husband has written "I love you deeply... xo".

To me, Valentine's Day is not a huge deal, but to be loved 365 days of the year is huge, so a small and simple gesture that reminds me of those other 364 days that is heartfelt and genuine is the most wonderful gift. To be surrounded by love is a gift you cannot buy for anyone, it's a cumulative process and so precious.

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