Ahh, St Valentine's Day. A day dedicated to luurrve and romance. A day when couples are expected to openly display their feelings for one another by the time-honoured medium of Clinton Cards and Moonpig.com. A random peek at an on-line dictionary gives the following definition for LOVE: " A random peek at the shop window displays in town (OK, I will name and shame: Debenhams and Marks & Spencers) gives the following vision of LOVE: women being dressed, or should I say trussed, up in stockings and suspenders with a bottle of pink Cava and some chocolates in a heart-shaped box thrown in for good measure. "FEEL THE LOVE" they yell at me. Well, I have to admit, when faced with this kind of pressure.... I do struggle a bit.
The commercial notion that Love = sex/power never ceases to amaze me. It seems to be based around the idea that to be attractive to a mate on February 14th, women must wear 2" strips of nylon and a square of synthetic satin that causes static and should go nowhere near a naked flame (that's the candlelit atmosphere kaput then). Now this is fine, if you are the same shape as those shop mannequins and can keep very still once you have placed the eyewatering thong/suspender combination in a straight line. But, put a menopausal, slightly chubby (ok flabby) woman with thread veins and prizewinning muffin-tops in the same outfit and you get, well .....er..... not quite the same effect. Sure, husbands all over the land will say: "but I love you just the way you are and you will always look sexy to me in stocking tops" and women all over the land will really, really want to believe them...we really do.... still it's convincing ourselves is a whole different kettle of kippers.
I realise this is probably making me sound like a crusty old maid and misery guts, but it's not the jewellery or the lingerie that is the issue for me - it's the pressure and the stereotypical, basic nay, caveman level on which the commercial industry form their idea of Love and Romance. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I know that prancing around the bedroom to a Barry White CD whilst wearing nothing but a pair of red sequin heart-shaped tassels from Poundland and a spray of Chanel No5 is going to produce neither attractive qualities, nor a sense of underlying oneness any more than my husband whipping out a pair of QVC Diamonique pearl-drop earrings from his edible posing pouch.
No, I just want a "normal" way of expressing that "I'm the one" and that "we are still here" despite being surrounded by kids, pets, family, mortgages, bills, sickness and anything else that the world feels it would like to chuck at us. In our house we still give each other Valentine's cards (lets face it, St Valentine's Day isn't going to go away any time soon, no matter how much we all moan about it) and yes, even though it has "TO MY HUSBAND" or "TO MY WIFE" on the front, we still don't sign it (don't ask me why....it's nuts, I know). We don't buy each other material gifts, but we do like to cook and eat a special meal together once the kids have gone to bed. No TV, no computers, no outside interruptions - well maybe a mutually chosen DVD - it's just the two of us - like a date - just to show that "we are still here". I don't know why we feel we can only do this on a "Special Day", to be perfectly honest, it can be achieved on any other day of the year and so we promise ourselves we are going to try harder to make the effort from now on. Forget the silk and the diamonds, the cuddly toys, balloons and even those velvety, blood red roses that you hardly ever see the rest of the year - the most precious thing we can give each other is our time.