Love is all you need

This day, Valentines day, has always been a nice one for me. I somehow got the idea (probably from my mother, who has always had a very subtle plan) that Valentines day was about Love in general, not romantic love in specific, and so around these parts it has never really been tied to anything soul-crushing and ego defeating.

It has remained relatively mundane, even in the currently awesome and enormous face of teenaged love, something that I appreciate to no end.

I am an intensely pragmatic person, and I don’t suffer fools gladly, not even teenaged lovestruck fools that I am related to, and it turns out I am not much of a romantic. Don’t get me wrong…I wholeheartedly agree with love. Especially love of family, love of friends and love of ethics and fairness, but on careful reflection it seems to me that romantic love, given completely free rein and allowed to run wild through civilization, has been responsible for more poor decision making, wars, kidnapping, obsession, suicide, low self-esteem and generalized rack and ruin than any other human emotion in the whole world…and this belief has led me to a significant level of caution around the sort of love that Valentines day sells wholesale.

This Valentines day idea of love, that we can be swept up, or away, or that there is a complete and total love and trust that doesn’t necessitate a safety net (particularly for women, who seem to sometimes forget that the best man in the world can get hit by a bus and the rest of them occasionally run off) isn’t something I want my daughters to think about. When I was younger, I would have thought that this quote was really beautiful.

We are, each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.

-Luciano de Crescenzo

Now it gives me the itching heebie geebies.

I want my daughters to know that it is possible to be a whole sensible person without benefit of romantic attachment, and many people have gone on to be happily single as well as unhappily married and ….

Well. I just wish we would stop holding out these “I would die without your love” fairy tales to young women and men (we could lay off the older ones while we’re at it) and start talking about the sort of love that we should be honouring and asking kids to aspire too. Love that is good for the people who are in it and supports and encourages growth in both partners is to the Valentines Day sort of love as whole grain bread is to twinkies.

I personally am way, way more turned on and reassured about Joe’s love when he cleans the bathroom than I am when he brings me flowers. Don’t get me wrong buckaroos, I love the flowers, but they would be an entirely hollow gesture if the dude wasn’t coming to bed smelling a little like Vim once in a while. A beautiful card would mean little to me if Joe were not an equal partner in parenting, and chocolates would taste a little off if they were given to me while I was felt I was being denied proper support for my career and education within our loving relationship.

Having a day where the romantic performance of your mate and whether or not he or she gets you a card, flowers and chocolate (although I do like all of those things) is paramount takes the focus off of real love and real issues between mates….job sharing, equal education, support, loyalty…and who the hell is making dinner tonight and are both of your names on the mortgage anyway?

I think the world would fare a little better if from time to time we looked at a couple swooning with love and instead of drawing pink hearts and singing “all you need is love” at them said “This is all very nice, but you are both going to be needing an education and life insurance.” The streets are littered with women and men who bought the commercialized Valentines day idea of love and ended up in some real trouble because it turned out that there was a lot of dirty laundry, diapers and bills under all that frilly pink adoration.

That’s why Valentines Day is going to stay as much of a family affair as possible around here. A celebration of the Whole Wheat sort of love to balance out the overwhelming tide of twinkie love sweeping over them every day through pop culture. I know that I sound more than a little cynical, but I maintain that I am not. What I am is a fan of real, whole love. Love that makes everyone in it better, not just vaguely happier for a while. Love that makes strong women, women who don’t end up loosing track of all of the dreams and hopes they had for their own lives because Valentines Day style love says that if you’re in love that’s all you need, and that if you still want things for yourself after you are in love then you must not be in love “enough” or you would be completely fulfilled by it. I want my daughters, (and your daughters and sons – because my kids are going to need some well adjusted people to marry) to have realistic expectations of love. I want them to know that the Valentines Day love isn’t sustainable. Not through taking out the garbage, skunks in the chimney or losing your job. You need love with teeth for that.

My daughters will have their days, and they will be knocked down and dragged through the snake pit of crushing romantic first love and they will likely get hurt and learn something and sob because they think they can’t live without the object of their affection. I know it. All I’m trying to do around here is to make sure that someday, when they gaze into their lovers eyes and the lacy and ruffled world of romantic love unfurls around them, that somewhere in the back of their heads, a little voice (it will probably be mine) says “Don’t forget to have a bank account in your own name, cupcake.”

I’ll close with the immortal words of Lily Tomlin.

If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?

442 thoughts on “Love is all you need

  1. Absolutely, 100% true — and good luck. I am reminded of Jane Smiley observing that while American Literature may have come from Huck Finn, it would be better if it had come from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Roy Blount Jr. saying that might be true, but that it was like saying it would be better if babies came from heaven instead of from sex.
    Still, if we could just get the phrase “Twinkie Love” to catch on…

  2. I whole heartedly agree. Love is All We Need was meant to mean that we should all Love each other – like respect, admire, treat nicely sort of love. That other stuff is over rated. I think it’s cute that you still want nice folks for your kids to ‘marry’… you old romantic you!

  3. Thanks!! That is great and so true. I love to give to my friends etc for Valentines day, and my husband and I do not do all the over the top stuff. Have a great day with your family!

  4. one of my co-workers plans to be married on this date next year. i wonder: is it better or worse to be married on v-day and forever have the celebration of your union linked to this most frilly of holidays? i’m thinking worse. at least when your anniversary is august, like mine, the whole world isn’t showing off.

  5. Thanks!! That is great and so true. I love to give to my friends etc for Valentines day, and my husband and I do not do all the over the top stuff. Have a great day with your family!

  6. A voice of reason! (And from the comments above, and surely to come, there are more of us out there who feel the same way.)

  7. This post made me feel entirely warm and fuzzy inside. We celebrate Valentine’s Day as just another day, except maybe with a little more love in it instead of trinkets. Thanks!

  8. I love flowers and I love chocolates – but not today. I want them because they seemed like a good idea, not because some advert in a big red heart told him to buy them! Just a card will do for me πŸ™‚ (and I recognise that even that is falling to the hallmark ploy, but hey!)

  9. That was a very beautiful commentary on love. Romantic “twinkie” love comes and goes. The real whole wheat love is here to stay. After 30 years, my husband is still my best friend. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  10. Amen, sister! “Love with teeth” — perfect.
    I can’t vouch for getting married on Valentine’s Day, but I did get divorced on my birthday once. In retrospect, it was the best birthday present I could have had.

  11. Yes. We don’t subscribe to the extortionate flowers/candy/card on V-day or you don’t love them either. I’m lucky to have a completely supportive spouse 365 days. Although he does bring me a dozen Krispie Kremes on the day which we share!

  12. Well said! It’s taken me a long time to get over the notion of romantic love. I’m happily married to a man who isn’t romantic in the romantic love kind of way (his response when I tell him I love him? “Ok”). And I occasionally still wish for the starry-eyed “Your love is everything to me” sort of deal. But, I know that he’ll be with me through thick and thin. And that’s more important than flower, chocolates, or expensive sparkly jewelry.

  13. Valentine’s Day in our house is a family affair, and the way my pre-teen son insisted on everyone being in the room to open their valentines together, you would have thought it was Christmas morning.
    And you’re absolutely right, real love does have teeth.

  14. I whole heartedly agree. Romantic gestures are very nice but the un-romantic “we are in this together” gestures are the best bulwarks of a relationship.

  15. I think it’s sad that Valentine’s day has become the reduction of love to tgreeting cards, chocolate, and flowers. The holiday, as commercially celebrated, reduces love to a fawning, simpering emotion. It’s really a pity that we don’t have a good way to celebrate true love, the sort where one person chooses to put the good of another ahead of their own – the sort that good parents have for their children, that good friends have for each other, and that stable couples have for each other. This is love with teeth, as you put it, and sometimes (often), it gets messy and difficult and painful, but it is always more rewarding than the pink greeting-card variety. Too bad we don’t have a holiday to celebrate love with teeth…

  16. That was the best, most concise, most perfectly-phrased interpretation of exactly what I believe about love that I could imagine. Damn sistah, your girls are lucky.

  17. Vim!! I haven’t heard that name since I was a teenager and we lived in Singapore! (An entire philosophical entry about the essence and true meaning of love–and I zero in on the name of your cleanser. Oops. This does NOT bode well for TMK.)

  18. AMEN, YES! We as Mothers, (& Fathers) need to instill in all our children that we need to be self reliant, and know who we are before we try to marry someone. I agree perfectly. Love is wonderful.. but , life is 365 days a year…!Preach it Sister!

  19. Thank you for saying it so very well–real love is the prize. What lucky daughters you have! I hope they find men like my wonderful husband, who is sometimes, I think, more feminist than I am. He is also more romantic. A little twinkie once in a while is fun, but it sure doesn’t substitute for whole wheat. This is a great analogy when the wind chill is below zero in Ohio this morning. You warmed me up inside!

  20. My parents (my mom at least) were always big on Valentine’s Day not being a really mushy type of holiday. (Well… no more mushy than they normally are). I happen to think it has its uses though – there’s a lot of discount chocolate availble on the 15th.
    My boyfriend and I were watching Shrek II the other day, and I commented on how the movie takes the idea of “happily ever after” and turns it on its head, by showing all the problems that can happen even when people are really in love. It’s especially effective considering that some of the problems stemmed from the fact that their marriage was a “love at first sight, get married immediately and live happily ever after” type in the first movie. Makes for some good conversation.

  21. I agree. And I find it sad that there are grown women out there that don’t get it. Valentine’s day is way over rated. My hubby and I have been married 16 years… and Valentine’s day might be a card or a hug and a kiss. And that’s fine, like you said there are other ways for them and us to show our love!
    Great post!

  22. I agree. And I find it sad that there are grown women out there that don’t get it. Valentine’s day is way over rated. My hubby and I have been married 16 years… and Valentine’s day might be a card or a hug and a kiss. And that’s fine, like you said there are other ways for them and us to show our love!
    Great post!

  23. Thank you for articulating my thoughts so well! I have printed this post for my daughters to read. Both “Love with teeth” and “Twinkie Love” are absolutely fabulous phrases to keep in mind.Thanks again!!

  24. Yup, I agree. Or as I told my daughter when she was dating Weasel-Boy “That’s sex. Tell me this, who is going to pay the mortgage and who is going to wash the dishes.”
    Took a while for that to sink in, but she didn’t marry him. She married someone who cleans bathrooms, washes dishes and treats kids as if they’re interesting instead of insects.
    And who doesn’t blink when her friends light a pepperoni on fire as an example of a simple solid rocket fuel.

  25. I wholeheartedly agree with the whole wheat vs. twinkies analogy. Whole Wheat love is based on good, solid friendship, and that’s what has held my marriage together. It took me a number of years to realize that I needed to voice my needs, too–but that didn’t necessarily mean that the overall structure of our marriage had to disintegrate. (DH is the breadwinner, I’m the one that takes care of everything else so he can work. :o) DH has skills that are highly marketable and lucrative, while my skills are currently best suited to taking care of our small children. When the kids are out of the single digits, I may do other things, like start a business, or get serious about writing again; but for now, I’m their world.
    If there was one thing I want to instill in my children (next to strong ethics and loving hearts), it’s that you can “have it all”, when you consider your whole life. Right now my life is seriously unbalanced–I take care of the house and children and not a whole lot else. But if I were to do otherwise, my family would suffer. Being unbalanced right now is a sacrifice I’m willing to make for their welfare. I want my children to understand that children aren’t something you can give birth to, and the hand off to someone else to raise for the majority of their lives, and end up with a close-knit, strong family in the end.
    And I’ll stop it now. :o) Happy Valentines Day!

  26. You are so spot on. My sweet husband of seventeen years is not much of a romantic. It took me a long time to realize that a man who does the laundry, bathes our kids and cooks dinner every night (amongst many other things) is showing me how much he loves me EVERY SINGLE DAY. He tries so hard to make my life easier on a daily basis and that is way more meaningful than flowers and candy and jewelry.
    Meaningful love like that lasts forever. Romantic love is great at first but fizzles out quickly. I’d rather teach my kids that!

  27. As my husband frequently reminds me, we promised “For better AND for worse.” No one ever wants to think about that part, but it’s what has enabled us to come out intact–through his encouragement of me through a Masters Program and my encouragement of him through some rather unpleasant health issues this year.
    In reading through your post, I immediately thought of the passage “On Marriage” from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. It’s pragmatic AND romantic–the idea of there being spaces in your togetherness. After all, “Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.” What’s more romantic than that?

  28. Ditto, Ditto, Ditto.
    Why didn’t I know this myself before I got all wound up in this concept???? I’ve since come to realize that love isn’t about what you say, it’s about what you do.
    If only I’d known then what I know now….
    Thanks for the very concise, apt, and pass-along-able post.

  29. Your post is fantastic!
    Valentine’s Day usually succeeds in making me feel ultra-single, ultra-pathetic, and ultra-in-need-of-chocolate. As one of my friends told me today, “Yarn loves you and does not judge,” so I am keeping that in mind πŸ˜‰

  30. Amen, amen! My engagement present for an ex-fiance was a joint checking account. Unromantic? But I learned what I needed when my fiance withdrew money I had deposited – without telling me.

  31. This tooty fruity Halmark idea of love is not a new one. “Romeo and Juliet” is touted as one of the greatest love stories of all time. Like your girls, I too was raised in a whole wheat love kind of home and after reading it the first time I remember thinking, “This is complete BS! They are 14! They’ve known each other for 3 days! That’s not love!”
    I honestly didn’t remember it was Valentine’s day until i read your blog. My husband and I did not buy each other gifts. But we do have 14 inches of snow on the ground right now and my darling hubby got up at 4am and went out in to the freezing night without hesitation (and without waking me) this morning when our puppy whined that he needed to potty. THAT is real love of a decidedly un-twinkie variety!

  32. “Cinderella and the prince
    lived, they say, happily ever after,
    like two dolls in a museum case
    never bothered by diapers or dust,
    never arguing over the timing of an egg,
    never telling the same story twice,
    never getting a middle-aged spread,
    their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
    Regular Bobbsey Twins.
    That story.” – Anne Sexton
    On St. Valentine’s Day I have a few traditions. I read Anne Sexton’s “Transformations” and I read some of Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” and I reflect on being a responsible man and helping others to be responsible men. I also reflect on the notion of being sainted without anybody knowing what one has done.

  33. My mum always said I could do whatever I wanted after I got my degree and she’d be ok with it, like getting married. So far, so good.

  34. Sing it sister! You said it so much better than I ever could have. My girls are 26 mths and 7 mths and I’m already dreading the frilly love of the teenage years. I think I’ll print this post and put it somewhere safe, to pull out again in about 13 years.
    P.S. Mr. Clean is a nice aroma on a man too

  35. Amen, amen. For an engagement present, I gave my ex-fiance a joint checking account. Unromantic maybe? But I learned what I needed. He withdrew money from what I deposited – without telling me.

  36. About 15 years ago there was a social scientist that named your “twinkie love”, limerance. That initial, all consuming, but very shallow form of new love. Mostly lust, I would also imagine.
    Brilliant, insightful post.

  37. I think this is a wonderfully written observation. After I got married, I felt confused. I don’t know why I thought that the act of marriage would magically make everything unfold in a billowing smooth sweep of tulle over the Grass of Life, but I was shocked (Shocked!) at the work and effort that goes into keeping a good marriage! And nobody ever tells you that, because the words “work” and “effot” feel pejorative, and tarnish the reputation of marriage being magical and romantic. That’s all there, too – but as you so succinctly put it – it’s hollow if the elbow grease and effort in all the other non-romantic areas of Real Life isn’t there. Good that you are saying these things to your daughters, for even if it seems to run off them like water on a duck’s back in these teen years, it will click back in their heads someday when the froth and carbonation of being Young! Invicible! and All-Knowing! dissipates. And they’ll have their knitting & personal bank accounts – two Independence Essentials, imho.

  38. My mum always said I could do whatever I wanted after I got my degree and she’d be ok with it, like getting married. So far, so good.

  39. See, now, I’m the luckiest girl in the world! I’ve got all that and I’m swooning my ass off. Twinkie Loves lives and lives and lives….

  40. Sing it sister! You said it so much better than I ever could have. My girls are 26 mths and 7 mths and I’m already dreading the frilly love of the teenage years. I think I’ll print this post and put it somewhere safe, to pull out again in about 13 years.
    P.S. Mr. Clean is a nice aroma on a man too

  41. No man has ever been shot while doing dishes!!!!
    I am glad I am not the only Whole Wheat lover out there. Its Valentines every day–like when your spouse brings you caffinenated anything in bed in the morning, like when he makes dinner for everyone EVERY M,T and W since you work late and go to grad school in the evenings, when he sees that the dog hair is building up and runs the vacuum because he wanted to. And you make potatoes for him, and mushrooms, even though you hate them, and never go postal when he uses all the TP and does not replace the roll, because you know that you are not perfect either.
    THATS love.
    AND a man who knows that we have no money (two kids, grad school, cloth diapers) and celebrates with a card and no expensive gifts. We are each others own expensive gift.

  42. Indeed!
    I have always hated Valentine’s Day – truly hated it – because it was one more popularity contest. Who got the most valentine’s from whom? When I was a kid and when my kid’s were little. Several years in a row, younger son (who could give a flip out popularity) got many, many cards, candy and gifts while older son (who craved popularity, friends, fitting in) got close to nothing or nothing at all.
    When married, it was one of the ’empty gesture’ holidays – hearts and flowers, jewelry, and chocolates – when we could least afford it, monetarily or weight-wise and without any substance that marriages are made of like partnership, help around the house, etc.
    A most painful holiday…

  43. Wise and well-written. Your daughters have a great foundation and terrific touch points. Love is action; love is putting the feet to decisions, love is an outward working of ME…not something that combusted AFTER I met SOMEBODY. I like whole wheat, I like commitment and then hunkering down to see how the decisions turn out. Education, careers, avocations, hobbies, interests, aspirations – that is what keeps life going and sets a course through time and space. The pink, lacey stuff is marketing that pulls at a weakness and a fear…not very nice, but it is. Thank you for good writing, I’m sending links to it right now!

  44. Beautiful Post. I was raised to see Valentines Day as a family day of love, ie. no killing my little brother, and my parents getting us little trinkets that show how much they care. This has transitioned over into my marriage, and my new husband (as of 1/27/07!) agrees. He in his ‘infinite’ wisdom told me when we first started dating that we could either “have V-Days like other couples, and I’ll show my love once a year, or I can show you my way…everyday.”
    Give me the everyday love of family and friends!!
    Love the blog, chickadee, you are great inspiration!

  45. I think you’re not giving that first quote a chance. It doesn’t say “one other”, it says “one another”. Which says to me that with your help I can fly, and with my help my son can fly, and so on. I think it’s well illustrated in the knit-blogger world – we all need a little help sometimes, and we can all embrace each other and fly together.
    But on the rest of it, I totally agree. (Except that I really like it that my husband believes that Valentine’s Day is for giving me jewelry – he has excellent taste.)

  46. Oh hell yeah.
    Romance is nice, but it’s buttercream frosting when compared to the Bran Muffin of Real, Adult, Healthy Love.
    I’ve always like the St. Exupery quote: Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.

  47. LOVE THIS! “Don’t forget to have a bank account in your own name, cupcake”
    This morning on the radio, I heard an advertisement for a divorce laywer….OMG, it was hysterical – even had my 9 yr old laughing.
    Stephanie, I am in the middle of writing a VENT on errata in purchased patterns. I would be forever in your debt if you could read it and give me your two cents if I am off my rocker being so irritated at a pattern writer.

  48. Very well said and as a mother of a 14-yr old this is so well written that I ask permission to translate that for my daughter. These days she feels she SHOULD have a boyfriend. She is well-adjusted, succeeds in high school, sports (elite teams) etc.. but she wants a boyfriend!! and I sometimes think for the wrong reasons. Although that discourse is sometimes punctuated with bursts such as – “the girls act so weird in front of guys sometimes, they lose their minds” etc.. I am trying to teach her to stand tall, have good relationship with people including guys and if they seem to be looking at only one thing in a girl – maybe she should pass away.. When all things seem lost – i hear her talking on the phone with her friends and i listen to the most “feminist” talk ever.. Everything balanced itself…

  49. Oh Harlot – what a wonderful post! And so very very very true. Sometimes I don’t even know things I am thinking until I read them from you – haha!
    Happy Valentines Day – we all love you!

  50. This makes me think of so many things I could say about my late husband and our lives together. But it all boils down to my thanking god that Mike and I had love with teeth. We needed it. That kind stays even after one of you is gone. Thanks, Stephanie.

  51. This makes me think of so many things I could say about my late husband and our lives together. But it all boils down to my thanking god that Mike and I had love with teeth. We needed it. That kind stays even after one of you is gone. Thanks, Stephanie.

  52. My partner’s first gift to me was a pocketsized solar calculater because they were brand new (back in the day) and he knew that it would make my days just a little easier in a career chosen for practicality and that whole ‘not starving’ thing. His second was my very own compact edition of the OED because he knew that I would curl up and die without writing, that I missed academia and that I’m happy belly down on the floor with my dictionary and magnifying glass studying words.
    He is now my husband and there have been many gifts, among them our three daughters, a home where we all feel nurtured and respected and nearly 30 years of what we call ‘rice pudding’ love.

  53. You know, my best friend gave me that quote in a frame once for my birthday. I never thought before to think of it in a romantic, male/female sort of way.
    I think you’re on the right track, and while I am completely and utterly in love with my husband, I also am in love with my self for I know that it just as important.
    Happy Valentine’s Day, I hope your heart is happy today.

  54. twinkie love! thank you for the thoughtful articulate intelligent post on valentine’s day. i am all for whole wheat. :o)
    Lori in Seattle

  55. twinkie love! thank you for the thoughtful articulate intelligent post on valentine’s day. i am all for whole wheat. :o)
    Lori in Seattle

  56. twinkie love! thank you for the thoughtful articulate intelligent post on valentine’s day. i am all for whole wheat. :o)
    Lori in Seattle

  57. The scariest quote about love I’ve ever heard is “you complete me”.
    My favourite quote about love is “I can live without you, but I’d rather not”.

  58. “Love with teeth”–I love that. I am in grad school at the moment and one of my profs always uses this phrase to describe how we should approach our readings, with tenacity and also a certain hunger for understanding.
    I have to imagine that your girls will be just fine–watching couples that share duties and love in a grounded way makes pretty much every other kind seem unthinkable. After a few heady teen heartbreaks, that is πŸ˜‰

  59. My guy put in a load of laundry this week for the first time since I moved in, “because I thought it was time I start making an effort.”
    Yay, love.
    The bank account thing is a very big deal–after my divorce from my first husband, I discovered what happens when you think you’re being supported and taken care of and you don’t need that safety net…the baby and I nearly landed in a shelter, and it was an eleventh-hour job that saved my ass. But it could just as well have been a speeding bus rather than a divorce that could set that kind of thing into motion. I’ve had my own accounts ever since.
    Come to think of it, divorce was exactly like a speeding bus. And on that happy-go-lucky note, rock on with the Vim, dudes. Way sexier than Obsession any day.

  60. “Love with teeth”–I love that. I am in grad school at the moment and one of my profs always uses this phrase to describe how we should approach our readings, with tenacity and also a certain hunger for understanding.
    I have to imagine that your girls will be just fine–watching couples that share duties and love in a grounded way makes pretty much every other kind seem unthinkable. After a few heady teen heartbreaks, that is πŸ˜‰

  61. My husband is wonderful – always forgets significant dates (even asked me where I kept the birthday cards on my birthday one year! – I don’t let him forget that one) but surprised me last year by throwing a secret 60th celebration with friends for my birthday (I thought I was going out for a family dinner) and threw in a fantastic emerald ring to boot. My 3rd son was as thrilled as I was, knowing what his Dad is like. 3rd son is the only one out of 6 that I have actually given birth to.
    Jant MF in Yellowknife

  62. I’m with you all the way. I posted the Principles of Loving on my blog this morning. I like to have an idea of the theory behind the practice. Helps to organize one’s learning. πŸ™‚

  63. I’m with you all the way. I posted the Principles of Loving on my blog this morning. I like to have an idea of the theory behind the practice. Helps to organize one’s learning. πŸ™‚

  64. hehe…..7 years in and I still have that separate bank account. (Love does not mean you have to toss out your personal safety net or loose your ever-lovin mind.)

  65. I couldn’t agree more.
    We don’t do holidays, much, around here. I want to be treated well allllllll the time, not just given token *things* on certain days.
    THis morning, we “celebrated” Valentine’s Day by shovelling the driveway together, just as we would have done on any other day after a big snowfall…..
    The whole notion that people feel better because someone spends a random amount on a random thing just strikes me as so incredibly wrong….. No, no, no. It’s how we treat each other on a daily basis……
    I’m working on getting the extended family switched from buying random things to giving that random amount to charity, instead……

  66. Nate and I just had the best valentine’s ever. No flowers or candy. We suited up and dug out our vehicles. we played in the snow and had a blast.

  67. While advising your daughters to keep a bank account in their own names, you might also want to advise them to exchange credit reports with their intended before the Big Day. I believed my ex when we had the pre-marriage Money Talk and he said he didn’t have any outstanding debts. Guess he must have temporarily forgotten about the $40K+ on his credit cards. Thank the Powers That Be that I wasn’t held responsible for any of it during the divorce.

  68. This morning I had to work till lunch time. As I left the house the living room floor was littered with bodies (boys sleeping downstairs because it’s half-term holiday).
    Did I come back to chocolates, flowers or even a card. No. Hubby had spent the whole morning cleaning. He even bleached the kitchen sink and cleaned the cooker top. He had taken meat out of the freezer so he could make curry for teatime.
    I wouldn’t swap him for any hunk who spends money on over-priced Valentine’s gifts. Next month we will have been married 25 years and it’s been a wonderful 25 years. I hope my daughter can marry someone as wonderful as her father.

  69. My partner adores v-day. And I celebrate it because it makes her happy (and because I really like chocolates and was very happy to open the Pride and Prejudice dvds this morning staring Colin Firth).
    The great thing about our relationship though is that we do the little things that make people think we’re gooney eyed over each other all the time…and we have life insurance, seperate bank accounts, advanced degrees, fulfilling jobs, wills, and a chore chart.
    We didn’t say traditional vows when we had our commitment ceremony but we often reference them in our everyday lives. When one person has a chronic illness and the other is prone to depression, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” takes a very literal meaning.
    We are practical, pragmatic, thinking-ahead kind of gals who just so happen to slow dance in our pajamas in our living room whenever we have a chance.
    And v-day is just one more day to celebrate that.
    Good for you for teaching these things to your girls.

  70. That is so completely true – if your partner (male or female) is not a true and equal partner the rest of the year, a lot of V-day gestures are going to feel very empty indeed. It’s the day to day efforts and moments and gestures that make a person feel loved, not the flower/chocolate/card moment that happens once a year because the flower/chocolate/card people say so. Having said that, even in a fully satisfying, equal and respectful relationship you can get caught up in the busy insanity of day to day life, and it is kind of nice to have a designated day to be reminded of what brought you together in the first place, as well as what keeps you together. I think Valentine’s Day would be a lot more relevant if people would ignore the commercialism and celebrate it in a way that was meaningful and personal to their own relationship(s), which it sounds like you (and everyone in the comments!) are doing.

  71. “Whole-wheat love” made me think of Marvell’s “vegetable love.” Even though “to His Coy Mistress” is the archetype get-her-in-bed Carpe Diem poem, I’ve always liked the idea of slow-growing, good-for-you vegetable love (and really hope somewhere someone is using it for the name of a vegetarian restaurant).
    Our public radio station aired a commentary from a local professor yesterday, who pointed out that all those cheap little valentines kids tend to give each other are, since they all feature liscensed characters, are really advertising that the students and parents PAY THE COMPANY to distribute. Each kid in a class brings home 30 such ads, after a typical Valentine’s – geez!

  72. Well put.
    I also strongly believe that partners should LIKE each other as much as they LOVE each other. I’ve never understood those who get married and don’t even like each other. Makes no sense.

  73. Right on! This is actually going to be the very first Valentines I have ever spent with a sweetie (and I’m almost 28). We are keeping it very low key. No eating out, no chocolates (I still have plenty from Halloween), no flowers from me, although I don’t know his plan. I am hoping for a dinner of homemade fondue and maybe a milkshake. Knitting and reading will probably round out the evening. I wish we had some snow so we could go sledding or something. Ice skating would be awesome, but it has been around 40 F for the last week, so I don’t think there is any ice left.
    Friday will be a bit more special. First anniversary.

  74. My own DH said after we got married, “Now I want you to keep your own checking account also.” Huh, really? “Because I don’t want you to feel that you gave up ALL of Your Independence just because you got married to me!” What a guy!!

  75. BRAVO!
    i agree whole-heartedly!
    and i wish this view was one more widely seen.
    may your day be full of love in every form!

  76. Well said. I think that what’s often forgotten is that long before romantic love, what we know of as love is what we feel for a mother or father or grandparent or sibling or best friend — and without this love, we wouldn’t have the context to appreciate or understand romantic love when we feel it.

  77. Yes! Love is a committment, and sometimes committment means your sweetheart (or both of you) is out on the back deck at one in the morning, washing the skunk spray off the dog. Or he’s changing a flat tire in the pouring rain, while he lets you stay dry in the car. I think though, that a little frilly romance and chocolates once in a while also has its place. As long as that’s not all there is, ’cause that stuff doesn’t last much longer than the bubbles in the hot tub.

  78. Right on! I love whole wheat love!
    I’ve always thought of love as an action, something that you do, a way you behave towards people, and Valentine’s day as a reminder to thank the people who have given love to us, even through the dark times, not a day to wallow in sappy fantasies.

  79. I so totally agree and I wish that this post could be read and re-read and understood by every child, woman, man alive. I wish I had read it 3 divorces ago :-O; live and learn, painfully to be sure, but it is now a very well-learned lesson! Give me whole wheat any day! The most love I ever felt for (one of )my ex-husbands was 1) he literally saved my life by driving me to the emergency room during a life-threatening illness (‘course, that’s easy); and 2) coming home to find him loading the dishwasher (for the first time ever). Now THAT’s the kind of love I can embrace!

  80. Sing it sister! It took me a long time to realize that wanting to be rescued wasn’t getting me the kind of man I wanted in my life and a few years of stepping back from the romantic love game to realize that I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than in an unhappy marriage.
    Luckily, and thanks to eharmony, I found the whole wheat bread love I had been looking for and so far it has gotten us through building a house, a burglary, planning a wedding, the illness and death of a parent, the death of two grandparents, and a job crisis.
    And that’s just in the last calendar year. Try THAT with Valentine’s Day love.

  81. YES and I’m making sure both the teenagers in my household read this also, reaffirming what I continue to tell them. THANKS

  82. All I could think of when you mentioned the romantic gesture of Joe cleaning the bathroom was that I may be more in love with my cleaning lady that I thought. πŸ™‚
    We are, each of us angels with only one toilet brush and a check for services rendered; and we can only clean by embracing one another.
    Together we can soar over the dirty dishes and make merry in a swirling flurry of my husband’s dirty socks, which litter the apartment like droppings from some giant sock-pooping rodent.
    Love is in the air, and I can only count the days and piles of clutter until I see me sweet Teresa agin (that would be 8 on both counts).

  83. Actually, if your partner is not a true and equal partner the rest of the year, V-day gestures are going to be the only thing that ever makes you feel validated. Then… because the partner actually doesn’t give a crap the rest of the year… they don’t give a crap for V-day either so THEN you’re reminded that you live in a miserably unequal relationship.
    I couldn’t have said it better than you Steph. I’ll be sure to direct my husband and children (son and daughters) to this post so that they can hear it from someone besides me. Maybe then they’ll realize I’m not being a whining hormonal bitter woman who is simply complaining because she doesn’t get everything she wants.
    Clean the bathroom and change a diaper every once in a while, Dude (and kids!). I wonder if they sell Vim in Kansas?

  84. Ohh… I just told the boy your quote and it went like this
    Boy: So… you’re saying that we’re Roman Meal?
    Me: yes! πŸ™‚
    Boy: That’s the best thing I’ve heard alllll day.

  85. Right on, Stephanie. Preach it, sister!
    I would only ad that as a high school teacher, I must say Valentine’s Day is my least favorite day of the year, because one can only handle so much girly giggling and ballon-and-teddy-bear expressions of “love” before one just has to tell a room full of 20 16-year-olds, “You know, Valentine’s Day is really a meaningless, commercial holiday designed to make us buy as much crap as possible.”
    Oh, how they protest. πŸ™‚

  86. Speaking of empty comments, I loved this exchange on the old sitcom “Just Shoot Me:”
    Ditsy blonde, staring wide-eyed at David Spade, speaking to one of the other characters: “He completes me.”
    Other character, to David Spade: “What, did you give her a kidney?
    HiLARious.

  87. Love really is spiritual! It requires all mankind to share it. And, as Stephanie said, we should be teaching our children to embrace all the world in their love. Just think what progress we could make if we did…

  88. My 30 year old son and I had a similar discussion last night. I do think, however, than when I made the cookies with the grandkids and we ate as many as we wanted while we laughed and felt free about the whole thing was what love is about. No cards or flowers were purchased, yet, we all knew it was about love.

  89. I don’t think you’re at all cynical. You have an abundance of common sense, and your practical nature is downright enviable. I try to impart those same values to my children, and I hope I succeed. Sometimes I think i’m swimming against the tide, but then one of them says something that makes me think “ok, it’s sinking in!”
    Thanks, as always, for being so sane and articulate and thoughtful.

  90. Sing it, sister! Yes, yes, yes! Especially the part about great guys, buses, and bank accounts. Absolutely, definitely, yes. With luck, I’ll pass the same messages on to my two daughters.

  91. I’ve always said I needed a love where I could sink my teeth in and shake a bit from time to time…and that’s pretty much what I have…and I thank everything wooly and holy/holey=lace? yep.
    whole wheat, whole spelt, Scottish Oats…bring it on, what makes life and love rich, full of natural flavours..
    We’ll be having Tom Waits serenading our dinner this evening…heh… that and the chocolates will be half price tomorrow,cupcake.

  92. Hooray- well put.
    And use me as a role model- I’m one of those whole, sensible, well-adjusted people without romantic attachment and happily single.
    Life has been good all around- with or without men in my life. Not better or worse, just good.

  93. I’ve always said I wanted a love where I could sink my teeth in and shake a bit from time to time…and that’s pretty much what I have…and I thank everything wooly and holy/holey=lace? yep.
    whole wheat, whole spelt, Scottish Oats…bring it on, what makes life and love rich, full of natural flavours..
    We’ll be having Tom Waits serenading our dinner this evening…heh… that and the chocolates will be half price tomorrow,cupcake.

  94. Lets try this again – I got booted before πŸ™
    You are so very very right – I wasn’t sure what I was feeling about today other than I was just not into the hallmarkey lovey dovey – because that isn’t what makes a person feel loved. You took the words right out of my head. Thanks!
    Much love from blogland!

  95. You know, when I tell people I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day I should direct them to this post.
    I’ve spent too many years getting all shmoopy over some guy and being disappointed on February 14th. I do believe in love, but it’s the taking out the day-old trash after we had shrimp, going out in a storm to get food, scraping the cars clean kind of love.
    As a plus, my boyfriend has had a ball all day telling people he didn’t get me anything today. He doesn’t share the particulars of why but does enjoy the look of horror on their faces. I guess maybe I’m bringing him an entire day of happiness for Valentine’s Day, huh?

  96. Your awesome at putting into words exactly what’s in my head but lack the capability to express in a coherent way. Maybe that’s why your the writer and I’m just the thinker.

  97. Amen.
    I refuse to let my daughter watch Cinderella because I think it’s a very sick movie. When I say that to other people, they start to argue, think about it some more, and then agree that I’m right. (Mulan, on the otherhand, is awesome. Who doesn’t love a girl whose pet phrase is “Wait, I have an idea!”)
    The best chocolate I ever had from the hubby was a Snickers bar he ran out to get, special, at about ten at night, because I was pregnant and it sounded good. You’re right – better the small and really meaningful stuff all year long than one silly day of grand gestures.
    But have a happy, love filled day, anyway. πŸ™‚

  98. Indeed, as my friend’s father told all of his daughters: keep the pillars of the temple separate. Love is wonderful, but like you said, it needs “teeth” and it needs open eyes.

  99. You said it Steph! I’m also quite cynical about Valentine’s Day, and my DH and I do not celebrate it in the traditional “twinkie” way either. I think it sort of devalues love if we feel we have to buy cards and/or candy on one particular day just because Hallmark and chocolate companies decided that we should. So there!

  100. EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!
    Lovely, lovely post!
    As a happily single woman I am so glad you are teaching your children about true life and love. If that love with teeth comes along, then wonderful. If not, then it is still OK to be happy!!
    Never been fond of twinkies anyway πŸ˜‰

  101. Absolutely! I can feel capable, smart, outdoorsy, beautiful, and proud of the craftiness (especially learning 2-stranding this past month!), but I’m single and Valentines Day is like a magnifying glass. Usually I just want to pretend it’s not happening.
    No more! Thanks Stephanie, for writing this blog all year round and keeping this gypsy grad student grounded. It really means a lot. Happy Valentines!

  102. My husband was saddened one day when I told him I didn’t believe that fate brought us together. “But don’t you think we were meant to for each other?” he protested. I explained that of all the people in the world to love, I chose him. We both agreed that was much more romantic.
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  103. Thanks, Stephanie. Not for the first time I find myself truly grateful that my young-adult daughter reads and loves your blog!

  104. I was talking to a friend recently who has been married and divorced three times and is now in a serious relationship again. My words to her were basically marriage is the icing on the cake of a strong relationship, not an ingredient or even a recipe for cake. Twinkie love is going to be added to the list!
    My hubby and I got married on the 17th so we don’t really do much for Valentine’s day unless we are taking an extended holiday and it happens to overlap. We prefer to have “just because” days all year long.

  105. Bravo! It’s those dinners cooked and dishes washed, laundry folded and feet rubbed throughout the year that speak of real strength in a relationship and “true love.” I can buy my own damned chocolate if I need it.
    Enjoy your celebration of whole wheat love!

  106. Stephanie, that was great. I just sent this post to my youngest sister (age 20) who is going through the first Real Love, with all the associated difficulties in seeing past “But I LOVE him!” to “He’s really not that great.” Thank you for writing this down.

  107. Hurrah! Sensible wonderful words at last! And so many people agree!
    My partner & I often get accused by friends and family of ‘overthinking’ or ‘overtalking’ things – planning how we want our life to be, to be financially secure, to do all the things we want to do, and to have the kind of relationship we both want. But I think we are at least being sensible and open about doing things together, not just what one person sits around hoping will happen. Oh, and I did get chocolates – about 10 days ago!! And we ate them! Nothing like prior planning.
    Keep raising those girls to be real, not this fake thing that we are sold every day. You are fantastic.

  108. As a young woman who looked for the twinkie love and miraculously found the whole-wheat kind instead (and am finding it nourishing, amazing, and delicious), I know that this is a desperately needed set of sentiments. Thank you.

  109. Right on! I keep trying to express these same sentiments to the people around me, but it never comes out quite as eloquently as you put it. I’m just going to send all my friends the link to your page. πŸ™‚

  110. Stephanie, THANK YOU. For saying exactly what my 20-year old niece, who is tortured by the demise of her short-lived first hot “commercial” romance, needs to hear. And hear it from someone other than her caring aunt, who seems to get ignored even with amazingly good advice presented to her on the proverbial silver plater. You’ve done us both a world of good, especially if she reads your blog today (she’s a non-knitter, but I’m still going to refer your address to her). Maybe you can reach my niece with your sage and dead-on thoughts and another miracle can be added to your already-lengthy resume’ of miracles. Happy Love Day.

  111. Thank you for your blog. I share your feelings and I am learning and relearning the hard way. I to feel that flowers are nice but dishes and vacuuming are so much better. And how do you get throw all your comments, it is amazing.

  112. You are amazing. That. Is. All. There. Is. To. It. I am chalking this up with another of my running tally of Yarn Harlot Greatest Hits. (Breastfeeding and MSF being the other two) Maybe I am a simple person, but your words effect me in the same way that listening to MLK’s speeches. You are a visionary and I am glad to have your pulpit in front of me, in my home. You challenge me to think and not take things for granted. I am getting a little misty here. That might be the PMS acting up. Geez MSF, MLK, PMS any other 3 letter initials going to crop up? I defer with a joke. Thank you Stephanie – with all my heart.

  113. You are amazing. That. Is. All. There. Is. To. It. I am chalking this up with another of my running tally of Yarn Harlot Greatest Hits. (Breastfeeding and MSF being the other two) Maybe I am a simple person, but your words effect me in the same way that listening to MLK’s speeches. You are a visionary and I am glad to have your pulpit in front of me, in my home. You challenge me to think and not take things for granted. I am getting a little misty here. That might be the PMS acting up. Geez MSF, MLK, PMS any other 3 letter initials going to crop up? I defer with a joke. Thank you Stephanie – with all my heart.

  114. Hi, Back again and rather quickly, but had to look up something…
    All you need is love. Paul, the Beatle
    Actually, you need some other stuff, too. Paul the apostle, and Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot.
    Adapted from Peggy Parsons Senger, quaker pastor, from her blog entry of 8-18-06.
    disclaimer- I’m more fond of the words of Paul the beatle, than the other Paul, but it seemed appropriate.

  115. ROCK ON!!!! I am married to my hight school boyfriend, we chose a college we both likes, we both work and we both carry on. Through army deployments through 12 hour overnight work shifts why because we can fart in each others general direction and laugh at it. We’ve never been a on a real date, we just knew one spring morning that “yep, I’m happy like this, lets get married some day” So we did and granted its only been 2 and half years of marriage but it will 9 years of togetherness on the 24th. Happy V-day to you, the girls, and joe, plus all the blog world. Its the only day you can wear pink and red together and not get funny looks!

  116. Amen. to all of it. I had to sit, at my sister’s wedding, and listen to an hour-long sermon about how every person is a half who will only be whole when they get married. Luckily my sense of self is sufficient and so I did not immediately plunge into a blazing tailspin of worthlessness, but I’ve been at enough weddings as a single woman to realize that there are still plenty of people who buy into that fallacy.
    All of which to say, you are doing your daughters the greatest service in the world to be reminding them of these things. “Don’t forget to have a bank account in your own name, cupcake:” word, word, a thousand times word.

  117. As I stood in the card section of the store this morining trying to find the “just right” card from hubby it came to me, not only do they all suck, but they aren’t needed. I went and paid for his play station game, along with the little gifts I got for the kids and went home. I gave him his gift and told him I loved him and thanked him for being such a good man. (I got an MP3 player, so I must be ok too) lol

  118. As MY mother would have written: “‘Nuff said!” I hope your daughters are as much like you as I am like my mother in such things.

  119. Exactly! Thanks for saying it all!
    In the end, a bank account with her own name on it (and hopefully lots of sneaky money) is one of the most important things a woman can do for herself. My soon-to-be-divorced friend hates the word “co-mingled”. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  120. Bravo! Good, functional love is unparalleled, and it isn’t twinkies. But it CAN be freshly ground, homemade, straight out of the oven with melting butter. :-). I’m reminded of the Little Red Hen. It took a buttload of work and patience for that loaf!
    My dear mother is 57, divorced 3 times, and is still looking to be swept off of her feet by the “perfect” man. It breaks my heart to see her suffering like this, and to know that she doesn’t think she can be happy without a man. The irony is, she was never happy WITH a man, either. It’s the ideal she’s in love with, and it isn’t out there.

  121. All I can say is, you should run the world. I am so thoroughly in agreement that I feel like a carbon copy. (Anyone else remember carbon paper? Yes? Good. Now I have someone else to be “old” with.)
    Having made more mistakes in the name of twinkie love (I love that analogy!), and somehow, by the grace of God, come out the other end fairly intact and a bit wiser, I think this post should be required reading, for girls especially, from grade 6 onward, every year on this day, until they GET it, maybe until they’re 40.
    Stephanie, you’re wonderful!

  122. My daughter’s three, and we’ve already had the “it’s more important to like someone than to love them” talk. Here’s hoping it’s a lesson she manages to take with her!
    On the other hand, I love Valentine’s Day and start looking forward to it from about mid-January. Why? Heart-shaped pizza from Bugsy’s! Can’t say no to that.

  123. From someone in the midst of a divorce: thank you. It took this divorce to make me realize how much I had lost myself and believe me, it’s not going to happen again. No more chocolate, wine, and roses for me without the support, compromise, and trust that has to go with it. (Besides, my cat eats roses and then throws up a lot, so that’s just a big waste of money.)

  124. Thank you, Stephanie, for articulating the pitfalls of Twinkie love and the goodness that comes from fully understanding and appreciating whole wheat love. I love my whole wheat husband with all my heart– and we’re celebrating our love today with laundry and errands. That is, I’m studying all day for a Spanish test and he’s buying laundry soap and toilet paper so we survive the rest of the day.
    Thanks for reminding us to appreciate the little things, especially in the face of a commercialized holiday!

  125. OMG! That first quote in pink caught my eye and I read it and feared for your sanity . . . then I read the whole post and was enormously relieved! Glad to see your feet are still firmly planted on the ground. Here, here for whole wheat love! I will be having dinner with two friends–it is our annual tradition–because boyfriends come and go, but your friends will be with you ’til the bitter end. Ditto your family. What better love to celebrate!

  126. “Whole wheat”… you described my marriage perfectly… and my husband got down on one knee this morning and gave me a lovely smooch over my knitting.
    He’s perfect, I tell ya.

  127. Thank you. I also thought Romeo and Juliet was a bunch of hooey. Real love is not killing yourself over the loss of a lover, but continuing on and living a full life after the loss.
    Here’s to whole wheat. Maybe that’s why I had the urge to bake whole wheat bread this past weekend!

  128. Oh Steph! I so hear you! Did the frilly pink love with marriage… and it’s done. I have the whole wheat kind of love now, (without marriage). It is so, so much better. Substance.

  129. I think that Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it best (and I first heard this from my husband – it is the advice he gives to anyone in love or upset by their romantic lives)…
    Love is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction.

  130. Stephanie, you made my entire Valentine’s Day much happier. I completely agree with everything you said, and I wish more people in the world wold express these sentiments.
    Thank you.

  131. You ought to take up carpentry because you have a talent for hitting the nail on the head! I think I will forward this post to my sixteen year old son just to be sure he is on the right track. Hopefully he has learned all this from his parents but it never hurts to check.
    I am spending V day here at home on a snow day with the kids – right now it is sleeting wildly; the temperature is supposed to drop and turn back into snow later. Oh boy!

  132. Someone once said either “there is no greater aphrodisiac” or “there is no bigger turn-on” than a man unloading the dishwasher of his own free will.
    Yup. I’m becoming a whole wheat fan myself. Now to schedule a visit to the bread store…

  133. I have to keep telling my Mom that my marriage is perfectly OK even though we don’t have a joint bank account.
    Teaching women to take care of themselves not only makes them independent, but it will make them better partners as well. Love thyself (not in a meglomaniac way) is the most important place to start to have good relationships with others.

  134. Perfect! I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband gave me the best gift he could today…..he took the day off from work to help me care for our young children and give me a little well deserved down-time. Would I rather have chocolates and flowers? Nope, he showed me that he really loves me by taking my actual needs into consideration! That’s what love is about, not starry-eyed romance and simpering love notes.

  135. Oh thank the Goddess! There are more non-romantic real women out there!!!! My darlin’ Hubby of 35 yrs gave me a bean burrito for dinner yesterday because I came home sick from work…so on his own he picked up some dinner for himself,got me the burrito, kissed me on the forehead and said Happy Valentine’s day…now that is the kind of love I want and have! Whole Wheat indeed!!! And Steph…wonderful advice to the girls….”Don’t forget to have a bank account in your own name, cupcake.”

  136. this is exactly what we have taught in our home. but as reinforcement, i will give each of my daughters a copy. thanks for putting it down in print.

  137. Steph, you make me want to stand up and cheer. Sea Anemone and I were talking about this very thing earlier today! You really hit all the nails on the head.
    My hubby has never bought me flowers and didn’t even take a knee when he proposed…but he cleans the kitchen, scoops out the cat box, splits the bills with me, and always knows exactly what I’ll love to get as a gift. Even better, my parents adore him, my friends think he’s great, and he makes me happy *every day.* Whole wheat love really is the most beautiful kind of love in the world…and that’s from a girl who grew up fantasizing about meringue love, day after day and year after year.
    And one more thing: I discovered that at least one of the old cliches about finding the love of your life (if indeed you do so) is true. It was not until I was happy and whole on my own that I met my husband. Besides, who wants to spend the rest of their lives with half a person?

  138. “The Whole Wheat sort of love”–what a perfect phrase!
    I am totally with you in spirit–but then along came a big Valentine’s week event in my life and everything changed. Yep–I don’t care at all about flowers or chocolate but somehow the celebration has been magnified for me.
    I love your post and will be printing this one out to keep.

  139. My mother sent me an e-Valentine this morning that says, “Did you Valentine’s day actually commemorates the *hanging* of St. Valentine?” I found it amusing. There’s nothing wrong with chocolate on Valentine’s day (or any other time) but the amount of hooplah that surrounds the holiday is absurd.
    The man I dated when I was in grad school gave me a potted plant every Valentine’s day. (Two of the plants are still alive, the other two are sadly deceased). I think that’s just about the perfect level of Valentine’s celebration.

  140. I look at Valentine’s Day a lot like cashmere. Bear with me here… .
    I’m a wool kind of gal. It keeps you warm, keeps the damp to a minimum, keeps you alive – much like true and abiding love you speak about in your post.
    However, cashmere, while it can keep you warm, dry and alive, it’s just a little added specialness, softness, that makes it extraordinary among the ordinary, rugged, hardworking wool – like romance.
    And romance is what you make it – be it your partner cleaning the bath or taking you out for a walk and buying you a brew at the end of the day. The bonus for having stuck by during job loss, skunks in chimneys (really?), etc.

  141. sigh… it really is about the small things, the things that speak of commitment and respect, the stuff done in “ordinary time” instead of with the pomp and pageantry of a holiday. And I agree that it’s become all about what we are being sold. And, although country music sets my teeth on edge, I have to admit that there are a few country songs that actually reflect that plain and simple aspect of love, rather than the over the top celebrations we have grown accustomed to(gah! never thought I’d actually plug country…)

  142. Just to add to your thoughts, I frequently like to point out to all who are crazed about issues of love that real love is not a feeling it is an action

  143. While I agree with where you are going, (I have a 20 year old daughter to teach this to)the only way to get to this point is by kissing a lot of toads and finding out that what you really need is the “every day” sort of Love. After the so-called angst caused by boyfriends, you get past it finally. My mother was right when she told me to a)marry by best friend and b)marry someone who didn’t need me to do everything for him.
    Dating in high school is to find out what you DON’T want in a man. Dating in college is to find out what you DO want in a man.

  144. I’m with you 150%, and yet, and yet…… When our younger of two daughters and her high school boyfriend “fell’ some years ago, they sprinkled our household with a swooning elixir that had all of us several feet off the ground. They were, being very young, Romeo and Juliet without the tragedy. They were very beautiful and did, in fact, “look out in the same direction together.” Their alliance lasted through high school and on into college with the same level of in-love-ness. Now that they are both trying out other venues, we miss him and “them,” and we hope they reunite at some point. Romantic love may be impractical, but there’s really nothing else like it.

  145. I’m with you 150%, and yet, and yet…… When our younger of two daughters and her high school boyfriend “fell’ some years ago, they sprinkled our household with a swooning elixir that had all of us several feet off the ground. They were, being very young, Romeo and Juliet without the tragedy. They were very beautiful and did, in fact, “look out in the same direction together.” Their alliance lasted through high school and on into college with the same level of in-love-ness. Now that they are both trying out other venues, we miss him and “them,” and we hope they reunite at some point. Romantic love may be impractical, but there’s really nothing else like it.

  146. To us, Valentine’s Day is just another day. I don’t love Deb any more or any less today because it’s Valentine’s Day…i love her more and more each day! I don’t feel that i need to go out and buy her some form of the commercialized Valentine’s Day items for her to know that i love her.
    We’ve been together for seven years. During most of those years money has been tight, and oddly enough, around Valentine’s Day there’s always precious little money to spend. For years, we’ve taken to the making of home made gestures of Love. A hand made card, an original poem, coupons for a foot rub…it’s fun to see what one can come up with when pressed into creativity.
    I much prefer my Valentine’s Day a home made one, rather than me or my Love feeling the pressure of getting out to a store in search of the perfect gift. The perfect gift is right here at home. πŸ˜‰
    Love on!
    ~Suz~

  147. It’s Valentine’s Day? That’s how much attention I want to pay to this “holiday”. But the kids were filling out valentines (the younger two, anyway) so it’s impossible to ignore anyway. My husband and I don’t “celebrate” Valentine’s Day. We show our love all year. We exchanged flowers couple weeks ago when they were still affordable, that is to say I happened to be in town one day, and there were flowers on sale. I purchased a couple bouquets, roses and carnations, brought them home, gave one to hubby, kept one for me, then told him to give the bouquet to me as I did the same and we exchanged I love you’s, both of us laughing in the face of commercialism and Twinkie Love. We’re together for the long haul. We cooks every evening, I do the laundry… We’re happy and still in “love with teeth”.
    P.S. It’s not just Twinkie Love that’s been responsible for all those wrongs in the world. Religion can claim a good portion of the responsibility/credit as well.

  148. You put into words exactly what I was thinking and feeling. The last pinky-Twinkie Valentine’s Day I had was five years ago, and I am so much happier being where I am now with my life and myself. I think this qualifies as one of my favorite posts all time! Thank you!!!

  149. Amen and Amen yet again! Your wisdom shines through like a beacon. I do so appreciate it – along with the nonsense and giggles that are a necessary part of wisdom. You and Joe and the ladies and Ken and your folks and Joe’s folks and well, ever’body are well and truly Loved. Blessings

  150. Damn skippy. A woman in my office got very irritated with me today because I said “When it all comes down to it, today is a greeting card company holiday.” She huffed “I think it’s beautiful to have a day where you show your love for others.” To which I replied “You shouldn’t have to have a specified day to tell others that you love them. And if you have to have a specified day? Shouldn’t it be specified by YOU and not the people at Hallmark?”
    I’m with you, Steph. I love my boy, and yes, I got him a card and a present, but tonight won’t be any more (or less special) than any other night of the week simply because it’s Valentine’s Day. It will be special because we’re together and we’re a team.

  151. Hi Stephanie!
    I have always admired your intelligence, sense of humor, attitude and wisdom, but you have really impressed me even more with your level headed take on “Twinkie” romance! I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of having this concept stated so well, and so accessibly! It took me a long time to understand that too many people are twinkie lovers, when I was whole wheat (maybe with some fluffy cream on top, but still whole wheat!) I ended up with too many users who acted like the real deal but weren’t when life’s pressure was applied, and finally at 45 after giving up and realizing alone was perfectly fine because I really enjoy my own company and didn’t need the hassle of another faker, I found my matching whole wheat man! Or actually, he found me, I wasn’t interested in a relationship, just a friendship. It is so much better to have a man who is willing to support my dreams, as I do his, and also step up and take care of dinner, or go to the market if I can’t. And who has actually volunteered to do the vacuuming to save my back, and who does the windows! πŸ˜‰ Love with teeth, I will never forget that, thank you so much!
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!

  152. Apropos of all that, I made David a Valentine’s dinner of eggplant parmesan and porcini risotto (a dish that should only be made for people you love or people who are paying you well). Then I had him sign paperwork to get him added to my health insurance policy.

  153. Thank you so much for that! My mother raised her daughters and son to believe that love is wonderful, but romance doesn’t pay the bills. She ended up with two very independent daughters who are in equal partner relationships and a son who will settle for nothing less. My husband and I said no to exchanging anything “special” on this day. Instead, we are spending the day shoveling lots of snow, while he does the laundry and I make meals. That is a loving day for us!

  154. I think I love you for this post, though in more of a, oh I dunno, morning breakfast muffin with lots of whole grains and dried fruits and honey and Irish butter kind of way. πŸ˜‰

  155. Well, if whoever you’re with isn’t frilly to start with, that isn’t how you’ll celebrate today anyway.
    I would never request chocolates or anything (requestiong specific things seems a little pushy to me, although I did request a graduation laptop)but I have to admit that there are far worse presents.

  156. As generation 1 after women’s lib, I’m wondering why this has to be said but of course, we Know it because someone told us. We are trying to raise strong-minded independent young women and that takes relentless vigilance – carry on.

  157. I know exactly what you mean. People call me a romantic because I love romantic movies, I even read romances — but I’m not an idiot and I know that’s fiction. Here in reality I want a Real Partner. That’s part of the reason I didn’t kiss a guy until I was twenty-one. I wasn’t looking for flowers and sex — and I liked being single.
    My boy enhances my life, but he isn’t my life.

  158. I SO understand what you are saying!! I have Whole Wheat Love and overall I am very happy and fulfilled and grateful. But I am a girly girl and days like today give my very practical, unromantic husband a set time to show me in less practical ways that he does love me. I know a diet of whole wheat is way better for me and I’m happy to have it, but I still like a twinky now and then as a treat. That’s what these kinds of days mean to me, a treat in an otherwise healthy and fulfilled life.

  159. Well, if whoever you’re with isn’t frilly to start with, that isn’t how you’ll celebrate today anyway.
    I would never request chocolates or anything (requestiong specific things seems a little pushy to me, although I did request a graduation laptop)but I have to admit that there are far worse presents.

  160. Well said! I agree whole heartedly. I love me some chocolate, but I loved even more that my boyfriend spent 20 minutes shoveling the car out of the snow so I could get to work this morning.

  161. My SO travels. A lot. It works for both of us (both divorced, both independent and especially for me – extremely gunshy. It also works because I live with two 4-footers and he’s a “no animals in the house” kind of guy – although that’s changing) He’s on the road now, and yes, did do some of the twinkie love things before he left, but he also did something that really tells me that he knows me – I got a package last night that was clearly mailed to arrive at Valentine’s Day … containing a scarf kit of cashmere and mohair yarns.
    And when he walks the dog that he’s not mad about, I know that’s the whole wheat side of it.

  162. Thanks for posting this. You’ve nicely summed up everything I like and dislike about this holiday.
    Valentine’s has always been a family holiday around my house. My mum buys everyone chocolate, and today, I went out to lunch with my parents. I believe the plan for tonight is to drink champagne while we eat scrambled eggs together. I love my family!
    Also, the Lily Tomlin quote is great.

  163. YES!! You are so right. So many people talk about “falling in love” the same way you’d fall in a puddle. Silly. You decide to love someone, and then you keep deciding…every day…and when they’re making the same decision about you, it’s a wonderful thing. I’m one of the lucky ones – my hubby and I have been “deciding” together for almost 19 years, and it’s still more fun than anything! No twinkie-love in this house!

  164. “Twinkie love.” Best description EVER! “Love with teeth.” Second best. I tell my husband: “Foreplay means you do the dishes.” We’re both lawyers and see people going through divorce constantly, so we’re a lot more pragmatic than most people. Our attitude is, if you have kids, you’re never getting away from each other anyway, so you better work it out, even if that means a business-only relationship where one of you lives in the basement. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), we are still madly in love with each other after more than ten years of dirty-diapers-broken-toilet-someones-throwing-up-lost-my-job-what -are-we-gonna-do-now wedded bliss.

  165. Once again I am in awe of your ability to not just write something succinctly but to analyze thoughtfully. This post actually brought tears to my eyes. I am an old ’60’s feminist & raised my children with feminist ideals – even so the myth of this day is hard for them to ignore [at least for the single one]. Valentine’s Day has always been a family holiday for us. My SO bought candy for me, my 2 daughters & 2 grandsons. But, as you say, that gesture would be meaningless without all the little things he does on a daily basis to show his love for all of us. I am especially touched by his heartfelt love for my grandchildren. He is always on the look out for books that they’ll enjoy. During this nasty weather, he has been shoveling snow 2 or 3 times a day & offered to do so for my daughter whose husband is out of town. And he buys me knitting books from my Amazon wish list on a regular basis & bought me 3 skeins of pricey hand spun alpaca from an organic farm. To belatedly show my appreciation for all he does, I am knitting socks for his size 13 EEE feet – not enough but I know he really wants them.

  166. Good-for-you. Right on the money yet again Stephanie! As well if we lose ourselves in love we become boring little things and that wasn’t what he fell in love with in the first place. My partner loves me for who I am even when I am a pain in the ass because as he tells me a big reason he loves me is because I challenge him and his beliefs on a daily basis and that has made him a better and more whole person. Capable people are sexy. If I just “perfectly completed” him christ wouldn’t I be boring. And boring I ain”t! No sirree!

  167. A big Amen to ALL of that!! I married the first time to a guy who was all mushy words, proclamations of love, and who also turned out to be a world-class liar who took off and left me holding the bag, never to be heard from again! Now I’m married to the engineering techie geek guy (though still cute!) who is solid and committed, and has supported me through all my flights of fancy and through eight years for a 4-year degree of my desire! Now, THAT’S love!
    And luckily, my very smart Nana always told me to “keep a little something aside for myself” as well!—which is how I survived when the romantic creep flaked out big-time! I love your ideas about Valentine’s Day and how you are teaching your kids the same!

  168. You are one of my favorite people! I do not celebrate this holiday because of the pop culture love that it encourages. I do not believe that my love is displayed in flowers and cards. It is displayed by waking up in the middle of the night with a sick child or supporting a husband who has a mental break down. You know the “real life” stuff.

  169. A beautiful sunny day,
    daffodils nodding golden yeses
    A gray, rainy day with the wild touch of wind,
    birds sailing backward overhead
    Knowing you are alive
    And loving every minute of it
    With laughter
    With tears
    Finding the little things that make all the difference,
    Even if just for that one moment.

  170. I’m 48, single, and without a significant other. And I am happy.
    Tonight I am having dinner with my one year old God daughter and her 8 and 6 year old sisters and her 4 year old brother, all of whom seem to love me dearly.
    It will be a fantastic Valentine’s Day.

  171. It is a gaudy, horrible, Hallmark-generated holiday. In my elementary school, every child had to give every other child in the class a Valentine. No one got more and no one got less than any one else. Have you read “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O” by the late, great Shel Silverstein? Beautifully illustrates that no one else can make you complete, we each have to do it for ourselves; then we become what others wish to be. But it isn’t easy. It is hard work. A beautiful book.

  172. My husband said a few weeks ago, I show you I love you by emptying the dishwasher each morning, getting up before 6am with DD. Right now he’s out in the pouring rain shoveling snow. So I’m going out to join him. We have a partnership. And in those partnerships, it’s not always an equal load, sometimes somebody is under a weight -whether it be work, extended family problems, health and the other partner picks up more of the load just to help the other out.
    I did warn DH that DD age 4 was expecting her OWN flowers this V-Day. DH will bring me a bunch of flowers (not overpriced red roses). And we’ll sit down tonight in front of the fireplace after the kids go to sleep and write in those cards and enjoy a glass of wine.

  173. I was just thinking how much I used to love Valentines Day when I was a teen and how much I detest it now or I should say what it stands for. Its just a commercialized “holiday” used to make money on chocolate and flowers. My husband and I never make a big deal about it but celebrate other moments in our life that stand for more important things. The kids and I make homemade cards, bake cookies and call it a day. You hit the nail dead on the head.

  174. I just wanted to say… well, yes!
    I am so thankful that my parents managed to fill me full of that thing called practicality. Or, as I’m sure my father would put it, the ability to R U N N O F T if needed in a domestic situation. Heh.

  175. Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful, healthy, balanced “Whole Wheat” Valentine’s day, topped off with a healthy helping of reality based dreams and hopes! The only thing the “Twinkie” variety of love ever got anyone was…fat (usually preggers) and alone (baby daddy gone) and broke (twinkie love costs a LOT more than good, wholesome flour-variety love!) and depressed (because of the “sugary” highs/lows). Doesn’t Whole wheat love sound so much better! Along with some Herbal Hugs and Kale kisses! I hope I’m half as good a mom as you seem! And may your lovely girls realize how good they have it! Happy Valentine’s!

  176. Well-written as usual, Steph. If you ever publish a philosophical book of serious stuff, I think it would be interesting. You would probably find a certain amount of the material already written.
    Thanks.

  177. I hate to be the sole dissenter here, and am not of total dissent, (my spouse pitches in very well around the house) but I do think if we didn’t have all the flowery pink hearts and super romantic doo-dads to begin with, my husband and I would have never gone through the 20 year we have. And we have never had separate bank accounts.

  178. Well, we do share a bank account–but that stems back to the days when we both made $5.50 an hour and couldn’t afford the upkeep of a second account…that was 18 years ago. But other than that, huzzah!!! Yes… hearts and flowers are very sweet once a year, but what are you going to talk about when the heater breaks, the brakes break, the kid is sick, your purse is stolen and mom has accidentally skinned the cat during a routine bathing? I’m all for love with teeth. When the world snarls at love with teeth, love with teeth snarls back and says ‘I dare you, you shmuck, to rip this team of people who forged this family out of humor, sweat, and tears apart.’ Except love-with-teeth doesn’t really say shmuck, but you run such a nice blog I didn’t want to mess that up.

  179. Preach it! I, too, agree that I’d prefer a clean bathroom or dishes washed than flowers that will wilt and die. Regardless, I love Shawn. I love my family. I love my friends. (And, of course, I love my knitting.) That’s what Valentine’s Day should be about. You are 100% right! πŸ™‚

  180. You are absolutely correct!! I have tried to tell my friends that a man doesn’t guarantee happiness for so long my head has started hurting. Do I believe in love? Absolutely!! I just won’t sell my soul or become someone I’m not for the sake of romantic love. That ship has sailed . . .

  181. Very well said!!! I know of too many women (and men) who have stayed in horrible, emotion-deflating relationships. all in the name of silly, unrealistic love. “Sure, he treats me like crap most of the time, but he buys me the sweetest cards and prettiest flowers. It must be true love right?” Um, yeah. The worst part is that the Valentines holiday shamelessy promotes it and why? Because it is a moneymaker. I read today that U.S. consumers are expected to spend over 17 MILLION dollars on Valentines day this year!! 17 MILLION, I tell you!!!

  182. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Husband and I are both sappy romantics, but neither of us places much emphasis on V-Day. It’s a commercial holiday. It’s fine to use it as an excuse to be extra-nice to someone you love, but all of this candy-and-flowers crap is expensive and silly.
    Which isn’t to say I’d turn down candy and flowers or anything. But I won’t fret if I don’t get them, either.

  183. Until I came to Canada, I never knew, that Valentins Day was for romantic Love. Back home we celebrated this day with giving a single flower (or more if you wanted to) to every person we liked.

  184. Cupcake is smart. She does have a bank account in her own name. πŸ˜‰ I hear you though. I wouldn’t care too much about my DH getting me a nice, big basket of yarn if he didn’t help me clean the bathroom. Well…I might be able be persuaded to do the bathroom if he cleans the bedroom. I’ll barter for yarn. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  185. Another voice saying “Brilliant post, Stephanie!”
    Thank you and Happy VDay to you and your family and the family of all sentient beings.

  186. nice…i want to do the same for my daughter! well spoken, will definitely be forwarding this post to a few of my non-knitting friends!

  187. nice…i want to do the same for my daughter! well spoken, will definitely be forwarding this post to a few of my non-knitting friends!

  188. I love your take on Valentine’s day as a day for love for everyone. Thinking about the “twinkie love” reminded me of the different words for love in different languages and how English is unusual to have just one word for so many meanings. Ancient greek has two forms of love, eros (the twinkie love if you like) and agape which is a deep rooted rational love and I think it the one that true love is built on.
    If you want an alternative quote to the one winged angel (which I agree is a worrying idea that you are lopsided unless matched up with someone) how about Louis de Bernieres from Captain Corelli:
    “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
    Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

  189. I love your take on Valentine’s day as a day for love for everyone. Thinking about the “twinkie love” reminded me of the different words for love in different languages and how English is unusual to have just one word for so many meanings. Ancient greek has two forms of love, eros (the twinkie love if you like) and agape which is a deep rooted rational love and I think it the one that true love is built on.
    If you want an alternative quote to the one winged angel (which I agree is a worrying idea that you are lopsided unless matched up with someone) how about Louis de Bernieres from Captain Corelli:
    “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
    Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

  190. Absolutely. Right on. I have fought the idea for years that I must have someone else to “complete” me. If I’m not whole by myself, what do I have to give to anyone else. I wish this had to be posted on every video, along with the FBI and Interpol warnings against copyright infringement, that people couldn’t fast forward through but had to read before they watch the movie, or tv show, or read the magazine or the book. Thanks for saying it so forcefully, thoughtfully and straight-forwardly.

  191. I approach Valentines Day with dread every year. Bad things always seem to happen to me or my lovies on V.D. As a young(ish) bride V.D was never remembered by my love, so one year I really insisted he get me something; he did, but he also came down with a life threatening virus that put him in the hospital for 3 months, ON VALENTINES DAY!! …My mother had a heart attach, ON VALENTINES DAY….I got pickpocketed in the Paris train station my first 15 minutes there, ON VALENTINES DAY. so you see……
    My husband comes home to this crazy house every night with a smile on his face. He doesn’t drink, gamble or womanize. I prefer that to a bouquet of flowers on a day “special” day ‘set aside’ for love.
    Incidently, he did break with tradition one year and bought me a chop saw (which I asked for). I got more crap from the women at work who received flowers. But I reminded them some weeks later that I still have my gift while their flowers are rotting in the garbage. Take that, Cupid.

  192. Today I bought all my boys chocolate, each got their favourite kind & I kissed them & told them I love them, which I do everyday. Mark forgot it was Valentines Day but bless that man he got me light bulbs at the wholesalers today & that he did something to make my day to day life easier means more to me than flowers or chocolate.

  193. My daughter works in a cancer chemotherapy clinic and when she hears women talking about what their men did or didn’t do, all she wants to know is: Will he be there for the chemo?

  194. Well said, Stephanie. I was listening to lyrics of some 60’s songs on XM Radio the other day, and saying to myself “puhleez tell me why I thought these songs were so great way back when.” Thinking that if I and many others of my generation hadn’t bought the pop culture view of “Valentine’s Day” love, we might have been better off. I’m not bad off, mind you, and I’m not bitter. I just think that your girls are darn lucky to have a good antidote to the popular pap that gets sold to them. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

  195. Love isn’t about candy, cards, flowers, or diamonds, it’s about bringing you a bucket when you’ve got the flu, working double shifts to pay off bills, and the every day stuff like garbage and dishes. Every year, the message is: “If you don’t buy your wife or girlfriend diamonds, you’re a bad person.” Phuh! Keep your diamonds. Bill paying and every day attention to the partnership and family is way sexier. I try to teach my little one that she is her own person and she doesn’t need an “other half.” We are whole people and to heck with codependency. I could go on, but I think you about said what I would say.
    Happy Valentine’s day and here’s to real love.

  196. Bravo! Bravo! – well said. Unfortunately it seems there are alot of mothers that are not passing this message on to their daughters (and sons).

  197. I never really liked the Beatles, and the ‘all you need is love’ train of thought is a big part of why. It is not. I’m filling out divorce papers today. And having the Whole Wheat variety of love in my life is making this as wonderful a day as any other – lover or no, my friends and family are alive, alove, and well. The Yarn Harlot has written another example of why I am glad to be one of the sensible people in the world, who just happens to delight in two sticks and string!

  198. I so agree! I remember when I was going out on a date with a new guy and my mother said “He has a cool car!” and I said, “Is it paid for?”
    (Don’t know, but that was the only date I wanted with him.) I’m married 35 years to a very practical guy who cleans and cooks and does laundry. Now THAT’s a Valentine!!

  199. long love whole wheat love! my husband did all the dishes yesterday while I was at work. it made me so happy! and today? he had a plan to get me roses, but was thwarted by the snow—instead, we got to spend a cozy afternoon together, and I’ll take that over roses any day! oh, and his valentine socks(red with black heels& toes and a little secret purlstitch heart on one of them) will be done sometime before the day is over…wishing you all love today and always.Kathe

  200. I was standing at a bus stop in Boston several years ago on Valentine’s Day, and a man came strolling by with a shopping cart full of roses, shouting “Get ’em now for the one you love!” At the end of the day, at the same bus stop, the same man came by shouting “Buy ’em now or you’ll never hear the last of it!” Marketing genius.
    Way WAY too many people confuse sexual attraction with all-powerful love.

  201. For the record, this is a fabulous posting that adequately captures my feelings on not only love but this “holiday” as well. While I accept any excuse for the giving of chocolate, it wasn’t the fact that my boyfriend brought me flowers in the office that delighted me, but merely that he showed up, that he took the time to tell me a little white lie so he could surprise me and make my day, even though we woke up together, got dressed together, and rode the bus in together.
    I emailed a copy of this post to my sister, who is about to get married, and she decried it as “man-hating”, which confounds me beyond belief. She insists that romantic love is the be-all end-all, that any discussion of relationships that don’t put hearts-chocolates-flowers-pink first is deeply flawed and anti-love. I just don’t get it.
    I’m glad you do. πŸ™‚ Share the love.

  202. Wow. Thanks. I’ve been snowed in with the internet all day (should’ve switched the computer off, but I may never learn…) and reading hateful comments on blog posts about reproductive rights. When I came across this post, it so closely reproduced what I think about Valentine’s Day and love, and was so very NOT hateful, I almost cried.

  203. Hmm. I’ll be the one in the minority. Agree with commenter #200+ something who said that religion can take its fair share of the blame for the ills of the world. Me? I love Valentine’s Day. I don’t see anything frilly or sappy or shallow in it. It isn’t love at all if it doesn’t have teeth. There’s no separate, shallow pink and frilly love that Valentine’s Day celebrates. Your points are well taken but your complaints about Valentine’s Day are shadow boxing. A commercial holiday? Like Christmas, perhaps? That has naught to do with me. I’ll take ANY excuse to do special things for the ones I love.

  204. My dh could have written your post πŸ™‚ His V-day present to me is to do the dishes and make dinner; he knows I can buy myself jewelry and I’m allergic to flowers.

  205. Okay, I know I said yesterday that I never post here because there are a million comments but I HAD to today because I love your thoughts on the subject! Very sensible and practical but without denying that true love can exist and bring two people together. Amen!
    (Btw, I understand it’s one thing to appreciate the beauty and aesthetics of snow and quite another to actually have to live in it day to day. Thanks for your comment, Stephanie!) πŸ˜‰

  206. While I must say I ADORE “twinkie-love” I’ve always sort of viewed Valentines Day as a day of generic love. I hug everyone, I kiss my friends and family on the cheek, I pass out chocolate with a smile (and a song, if it’s later in the day and I’m hyped up on sugar) and I find myself inspired. I like to think of every day as a day to be more loving. Everyone could probably use it.

  207. Beautiful comments! So true. My husband and I don’t buy into all the Valentine’s Day hype either. He shows his romantic side at tother times and in much more meaningful ways. For instance he never forgets the anniversary of our first date and always does something sweet to mark the occasion. But if that’s all there was, then it wouldn’t be much. We have a business together and have raised two boys together and that all means much, much more than the romance (although it is nice to have that as the icing on the cake). We’ve had an ice storm here today and he dug us out and went to the store and brought me back two chocolate covered cherries, which are my absolute favorites, because he said he thought it would be a nice treat. Beats a big heart shaped box of overpriced candy anyday!

  208. WOW! you said that all quite well. I think what God intended for us was a lasting relationship through the good and bad. Not much romance mentioned in the good book! When you look at famous romances like Romeo and Juliet it doesnt make it look all that inviting to me.

  209. Steph, you have SO hit the nail on the head! I believe in love, and I believe in marriage – even if I am now a divorced single mum of three! However, I believe that to be able to be married, both parties have to be completely whole as a single person, and essetially happy as single people. This whole ‘other half’ and ‘you complete me’ stuff just doesn’t work – marriage is about partnership and teamwork, housework and hugs, the hard yards and the laughs. I once heard Dr Phil say to a guy on his show that the best way to start foreplay with his wife would be to do the dishes, with which I wholeheartedly agree!
    I did buy into the ‘Velentine’s’ deal of love, even coming from divorced parents, and my marriage died. Now, I am a whole, capable single woman who can learn how to change a tyre and fix the flyscreen as well as I can put on makeup and kiss my kids’ scrapes and scratches. Yesterday I celebrated a wonderful Valentine’s Day with a couple of girlfriends in particular, and it was honestly the best Valentine’s day I’ve ever had! Thank you for sharing your words

  210. My own Big Hairy Man and I celebrate un-Valentine’s Day buy not buying cards, flowers etcetera. He doesn’t do the whole conventional romance bit and I don’t mind. I adore sappy films and the romance genre where women are swept off their feet by a knight in shining armour but that doesn’t mean I’d like it to happen to me. I can slay my own dragons, thank you very much.
    Our Valentine’s Day consisted of taking our daughter to get vaccinated and buying washing powder. Then he fed the kids and put them to bed while I went to a business dinner. When I got home he lent me his favourite screwdriver (he owns the toolbox, I own the power tools) and watched me take apart my new (secondhand) drum carder which was FILTHY and wash, polish, grease and re-assemble it – without jumping in and taking over or even offering advice (it nearly killed him, I could tell) – because he knew I would be so much more delighted with it if I did it myself, even if it did take me five hours.
    Compare this to my first husband who once sent me four dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day… which was our rent money. I’ll take the screwdriver and the pat on the back anyday.

  211. My husband informed me when we got engaged that he would NEVER get me anything on Valentine’s Day, because it was more important to celebrate our love every other day. After almost 16 years of marriage, he still drops little notes on my pillow, calls me just to say he loves me, brings me home my favorite goodies. I do the same for him. He also cleans, cooks and does the laundry. He’s totally my idea of romance. I let everyone else go nuts on this day and just quietly smile to myself knowing I’m good for the next 364.

  212. Obviously, you hit the nail on the head! The world needs more Moms like you doing their job! What a refreshing insight into this day of mush! I have sent this to all of my lady friends because it was so meaningful to me!
    Thanks, Stephanie! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  213. I have always jokingly stated that Valentines Day is the holiday for men who beat their wives.
    Which was the least elegant way to express what you’ve just stated here.
    No wonder you’re a writer and I’m not.

  214. What a terrific post! I couldn’t agree with you (and the wonderful comments) more. ‘Whole-wheat love’ will sustain you while ‘twinkie love’ will eventually just give you a stomach-ache.

  215. I agree with a lot of your points, and would much rather have love with teeth than frilly pink love, if I had to choose. But frilly pink love can also have teeth, and I admit to loving the flowers my Valentine’s-Day-hating sweetie sent me. I wouldn’t cry if he didn’t send them, but I love that he did. I don’t think the two are as incompatible as some of these comments claim.
    Sure, Valentine’s Day is a made up Hallmark holiday, but I think the passionate hatred it arouses is kind of out of proportion. Mother’s Day is also a totally made up holiday, complete with flowers costing five times as much as usual and jacked-up “Mother’s Day Brunch” menus in restaurants, yet people don’t make angry declarations about how they show their moms they love them every day and they resent being asked to particularly on one day out of the year, as if that makes every other day somehow false. My mom knows I love her, but I don’t think she’d take it at all well if I went out of my way to tell her I wasn’t, on principle, going to acknowledge it on Mother’s Day.

  216. Right on the money. Those are my sentiments exactly. In fact, I forwarded your message to my husband this afternoon. Thank you for such sage words.

  217. Amen, sistah! For years I boycotted VD, but a few years ago I realized that I would be much more effective if I took the opportunity to use the day to promote what you term the Whole Wheat verson of love for everyone. Love for friends, love for family, love for neighbors and such. I still refuse to support the crazy consumerism, but some homemade goodies and handmade cards can warm anyone’s heart. Thanks for this post, wise woman!

  218. To the above poster: you just don’t know the right daughters. I know many who go on and on about hating Mother’s Day.
    I don’t do V-Day. I don’t know what to make of my son’s school, which has outlawed Halloween (a fine and fearsome holiday) but encourages V-Day (when they have to expell a 2nd grader this year for sexual harassment!).
    My dad married my stepmother on V-Day (32 years ago, they’re still married) and so I spent my youth hating it.
    I don’t ever comment here either because there are so many but I must participate in the rant of the blogless today.

  219. I’m a teenager and I whole-heartedly agree. πŸ™‚ For the first time ever I’m not angered by this holiday – I’ve been using it as an excuse to give all my favorite people Sweethearts candy and be happy to have them.

  220. Thank you, Steph. This makes me glad for the first time that I am having a boy–I suppose that for this to work, the menfolk gotta know it too.

  221. Definitely yes to all that, especially to the pre-nup credit reports and the separate bank account and credit card with your own first name, not “Mrs. His-first-name Last-name”. You can have a joint account as well, but the separate one doesn’t get frozen if the bus hits. I speak from experience.
    Whole wheat love is there for the car wreck, for the chemo, for the snow shoveling – and it also remembers to wear a coat when it’s cold, because taking care of yourself is part of caring for both.
    When did the licensed characters take over children’s valentines and birthday cards? It took half an hour to find a good card that wasn’t an advertisement. I’m going back to making my own.

  222. Thank you very much for the card I’ve not yet looked for. πŸ™‚
    And now I’m forwarding your post to sensible knitters and non-knitters alike.

  223. My mother used to have me watch old 1940’s movies – to show me what happened to the woman who made a poor choice in partner “because she loved him”.

  224. Yes! So beautifully put and so true! My ex made a point of telling everyone he would give me flowers and chocolate …but he gave none of the important things. I’m printing out your post to save for my daughter to read when she’s older, hoping she will make some wiser choices than I did. You are brilliant.

  225. We started with Twinkies but grew into whole wheat – married at 19 with no clue, but stuck it out and grew up together. He’s cooking dinner tonight, and I’m providing the chocolates. Last year he had to work in the evening, so I came home to a spotless house, dinner in the fridge, and a bathroom set up for a candlelit bubble bath – he didn’t spend a dime, but it was the best present I’ve ever had. Next week we celebrate our 25th. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional Twinkie, as long as you build the healthy relationship as your base. πŸ™‚

  226. Here here! Bravissimo! I heartily agree. Your words have given me a reason to look forward to Valentine’s Day, next year.

  227. I’ve always thought of romantic love as the icing on the cake of real, sustainable love. As for the first quote – I still like it if you read the quote as meaning that no person can go through life completely alone. Think of how often a group will come up with a better solution than a single person. πŸ™‚

  228. According to my marriage vows, I signed up for worse, poorer, and sickness, as well as the upside of those and occasional twinkies. Our V-day is a meal together at the same restaurant every year, but the celebration of whole-wheat, 12 years, international move, yard work, road trip, blocked-sink-with-company-on-the-doorstep love is the joint birthday next month.

  229. I have always loved that quote. Probobly because I had never thought of it in a romantic sort of way. It is tragic to watch a young woman (or not so young in the case of someone inparticualr i know) think she is incomplete without a man.
    I prefer to think of it more along the lines of my friends and family and, yes, husband too being the other angel when I need them to be. I wouldn’t be able to ‘fly’ at some points in my life without them. πŸ™‚

  230. I checked 2 hours ago for a new blog entry and nothing…2 hours later and it has 200+ comments, so much for being on the top 10,;-) I agree with the beatle’s song that “all you need is love”, but not just romantic love, love for your work, humanity, family, firends and yourself.

  231. While discussing the superficial aspects of love you forgot to add flowers, chocolates, cards, and the traditional Valentine’s skein of yarn. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  232. Amen, sister!!! As a 38-yr-old, single and professional women, I whole-heartedly agree. I am very happy and love my life. Would it be nice to have ‘found someone’ by now? Perhaps. Does it mean my life is incomplete without this? Absolutely not. And we need to make sure our young women get this.
    You go, girl!

  233. I’m going to possibly go out on a limb here, but I think, that possibly, the twinkie teenager love isn’t such a bad thing. After all, in the hollywood versions, isn’t it usually about the one person ultimately understanding the other and that’s what brings the two together? Think of the movie “Phenomenon”: he buys her chairs. My hubby not only buys my chairs but helps me build them. Why does love have to be one or the other? Don’t most of us, as a young woman & men, begin with idea of twinkie love and have that mature into love with teeth? Doesn’t that transformation more or less represent our maturation from girls to women & boys to men? I agree that Valentine’s Day has become way too conventional & overly commercialized, but, really, if any one of our significant others comes home with flowers & chocolate today, are we going to throw them out?

  234. AMEN! Part of the reason my two teen-agers started their day with a valentine from their dad & I. Maybe they’ll remember the kind of love that matters .

  235. You have such talent with words! All the psychiatrists, psychologists, and ‘life coaches’ could not have written a truer valentine.

  236. Speak it sister!! Valentine’s Day has turned into a Hallmark Card extraveganza. I am probably the most un-romantic female I know. I am happy with the day to day love ya stuff than a once a year commercialization of what is expected due to media influences. I still get crap about referring to those 3 diamond rings (past present future) as “going going gone” – men tend to purchase whatever the media tells them their women want – barf!! Twinkie love to all of you!!

  237. I love this, Stephanie – thank you for posting it. But heck I’ve always liked whole wheat bread a whole heckuva lot more than Twinkies, anyway. πŸ˜‰

  238. That is a perfectly written perspective on “real love” vs. “twinkie love” :-D. My husband agreed as well, although his comment was that I got the “12 grain bread” love instead… whole wheat, but a little nutty! I agree, but I think he’s got his own “12 grain bread” love in front of him as well. πŸ˜€

  239. “Word” I can’t tell you how relieved I was when my son and future daughter in law managed to make good, mature, level headed decisions. (Like waiting to get married until she finishes college.) They are giggly and as ‘twinkie love’ as most young couples at 20, but I can see them already tackleing the hard decisions and discussions that lead (hopefully) to love with teeth.

  240. Wow. You could save the world with writing like this.
    Do you mind writing a letter in your beautiful prose about respect and love and relationship-building and strength of character to our idiot president? Oh, I forgot. He’s not a reader. He’s just a decider. (Sorry… he gave a press conference today and his cackly, condescending drawl is still simmering in my subconscious.)

  241. I think if schools emphasized books like John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” or “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” or even “Flowers for Algernon” over ones like Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” this world would be a better place. I thought it was very silly when I read it and it had absolutely nothing to say to me about love. Hate, yes. Love, no.

  242. Well said. It is being forwarded to several love-struck teenagers — my niece for one.
    My husband and I ignore Valentine’s Day. We classify it as a “Hallmark Holiday.”

  243. How refreshing and honest and true! I look at my parents who have loved each other 50+ years. Yes, this is what holds them together — the strong people that they are.
    Thanks for this Valentines celebration.

  244. I totally, 100% agree. Which is why my parents and sister recieved Valentine’s Day cards (of the home-made humerous sort) from me today and the husband? Not so much. He gets my love everyday and doesn’t need a reminder.

  245. My hubby gave me much appreciated cough syrup for Valentine’s Day—he made a special trip to buy a certain kind, because he knew how miserable I am with an awful flu bug. He also surprised me with flowers (from our yard) and is fixing dinner. You are so right–caring for each other is so much more an expression of real love, than gifts and cards! I have sent your column to both of my 20-something daughters as my Valentine to them, since you expressed my feelings so exactly— thanks! I enjoy your blog very much….

  246. Absolutely agree with you, especially the part about our daughters needing to have their own bank accounts. Outstanding writing– and “whole wheat love” is a great metaphor.

  247. You had a wonderful expression and celebration of love skating the canal the other day.
    For some reason, I was often sick, out of school, and missed Valentine’s. I was always bummed about missing the sweets. I always went to schools that had us give cards to everyone in class. We made our own in my family. My favorite card was one my dad drew for me with yellow and blue highlighters on scrap paper.
    Now we seem to be continuing the same. Preschooler is out of school sick today. And we made the cards ourselves. (Crummy commercial cards everywhere! Rant Rant Rant)
    Coinicidentally, our wedding anniversary is Feb 15, for very untwinkie reasons. I plan on buying myself some chocolate tomorrow, maybe even sharing with my husband (he’s managed to survive 10 years – I’ll share.)
    Enjoy the family and friends! Celebrate the love!

  248. Eyup! I spend a lot of time trying to convince clients who come to me swooning with romantic love that love feels good, but that, one of these days, you’re both going to have head colds, PMS, in-laws and dog hair on your shirt and feel about as loving as a lizard in the snow. So you’d better danged well LIKE the person(s) you decide to mate with first. They had better be your FRIEND, because love, while many-splendoured, may be fun, like and respect keeps the relationship functioning through the crap that life inevitably brings!

  249. Ditto all 324 replies I guess (I can’t read them all at this hour). ‘rams’ said if we could just get the phrase ‘Twinkie Love’ to catch on…
    I say we can and will. With your permission I will use your Twinkie and Whole Wheat examples as often as possible without sounding like a dork.
    From one single Whole Wheat woman (formerly a Twinkie) who supports herself enough to buy a house and still have yarn, Amen sister!

  250. Well said…but may I add that lace is beautiful and very strong – but can be fragile if not handled well. It’s a lot like good love!
    My favorite talk about “real” love comes from the old Henry Fonda/Lucille Ball movie “Yours, Mine, and Ours” (a great movie) when Henry reminds his daughter what REAL love is instead of the panting frustrated boyfriend’s version. Mom’s in labor with child #19 (the “ours” in the title)and he tells her that Real Love is about struggling and doing the dishes – it made a real impact on me when I saw this movie the first time nearly 40 years ago!

  251. Nicely put.
    Its scary, really. I was *going* to write about how my hubster cleaned his bathroom AND some cat puke off the rug this morning, and how that was really a fabulous VD present. But I couldn’t figure out how to write that, and wrote something else.

  252. Love can exhalt us or demean us. Some of the most selfish people I’ve ever had to deal with were driven by a single-minded desire for the object of their affection. And some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met, people who radiated and embodied love, were seemingly unaware of any desire beyond the happiness of other people.

  253. I’m so glad to see that we are not the only ones who don’t use Valentines Day to “show our love”.
    The best V-D presant I ever got was waking my husband up at 3 am to kill the spider crawling up the wall over the bed (which he did without grumbling once)… now that’s what I call LOVE

  254. You nailed it again, Stephanie. Thanks. Your examples and those of other folks who posted comments would make a great book. Love, T

  255. I was never much of a one for romantic gestures, which is just as well as my husband is definitely the cook and clean type rather than the flowers and chocolate type. (Though he did bring Cold Stone ice cream home tonight, at my request.) I don’t celebrate holidays and birthdays, so this holiday — which is also my grandmother’s birthday — has never been significant to me in that fashion. I do, though, celebrate wedding anniversaries, and today is also my parents’ anniversary. (I swear, it was coincidence; Dad had a day off and they had to use the license before it expired or something like that. And then afterward he went to work anyway. Taking Mom along.) So it’s always been a family holiday to me and the rest of us, and we used to all go out to dinner at a nice restaurant… strangely, the only family group in the place. I’ve really wished they’d gotten married on some day that doesn’t cause restaurants to double their prices now that I’m old enough to pay for those dinners.

  256. Grandma always said, before you get married be sure you’ve seen inside each other’s houses and each other with a bad cold.
    Happy Valentine’s Day, Steph!

  257. Thank you, Stephanie. I hope to high heavens that your daughters understand – now or later, whenever – what a valuable lesson this is.
    Pink hearts and chocolate for Valentine’s Day was last appreciated when they were given to me by my dad.

  258. Once again, you are totally my hero. Today is a day my husband and I go out to dinner and celebrate that we have each other, but it’s been years (heck, before we were married) that he got me flowers for Valentine’s day.
    What does he do all the time though? He picks up containers of berries at the store because he knows I’ll like them. He builds me a website because he thinks I’ll laugh. He tells me ‘eat a granola bar, I can tell by your mood that your blood sugar is low and we both know you will feel better with something in your stomach. Please.’
    I’ll take that every day of the week, and twice on the weekends over twinkie love. πŸ™‚

  259. Maybe it’s because I am spending WAYY too much time in BritLit (aka remove-the-innards-of-a-poem-and-splatter-them-on-a-page) and what I see in the embracing quote isn’t that we’re dependent on holding each other, but that it’s what we need to do is to hold and accept each other to be able to truly fly with another. But here’s a quote for the day “Si vis amari, ama.” (If you want to be loved, love.) I don’t think it’s meant to mean the passionate, crazy love that people share, but that inner something in people that makes us decent human beings. Valentine’s day is a celebration of the thing that makes us decent human beings- love.

  260. In my country Valentine is not inbedded into our culture, but interesting to read about it.
    Thanks for sharing it with me and yes, I am a very happy and content bachelor and don’t wish for any other life !

  261. Ditto! My best gift was my husband shovelling the foot of snow in the driveway at 6:30 a.m. so I could get to work. He got the kids ready for school, and he had a PLAN for dinner. That’s gold in my books.

  262. As they say around here, “Yup.”
    I often wonder how I’m going to teach my little boy how to be a “real” man. By this I mean a caring person who realizes that love and relationships are about give and take, (sometimes)hard work, and honesty. Thankfully–his dad will be a good role model.
    Super post!!! I wish I had that kind of knowledge about 12 years ago. . .would have saved me from learning about real love “the hard way.”

  263. Actually, what I like DH to do (and he knows that I like this) is to have the younger children make me cards for whatever holiday it is. This benefits him, too…since 1) they LIKE doing this, if reminded, and it keeps them engaged, entertained, and out of his hair on _his_ watch 2) makes me happy with him, for doing it 3) saves money and teaches the kids what’s actually important 4) makes him look good with both the kids and me!
    The best valentine in this house this year was the email the 2nd grader sent to his sister, from “FROM YOUR SEKERIT SUMWUN” She (15yrs) was TOTALLY charmed by her baby brother (8yrs, a struggling reader)!

  264. Well said. My boyfriend claims not to do romantic; he is excellent at taking out the garbage, cooking for me and with me, being there when the doctor suggests I have an ultrasound in case of polycystic ovaries, propping me back up again when I melt down and mentioning that he’d like to work in Afghanistan (but doesn’t think that the political situation will ever line up to make that possible).
    For someone who claims not to be a romantic, he took me out for the most amazing meal I’ve ever had last night, presented me with tulips (the roses weren’t nice enough) and eucalyptus leaves (I’ve had a cough), and tucked the intarsia heart I’d knitted to go on the front of his card into his breast pocket.
    He is a romantic realist.
    Like you, I consider myself to be very lucky.
    ~x~

  265. Ahem…preach it sister. I am becoming more convinced that Disney movies are responsible for many women of my generation unrealistic view of love. Guys don’t dance out of the forest.
    But what makes a difference for many is their parents example and your girls have a great start.

  266. Amen, Stop buying little girls Barbie Dolls and such that give them unrealistic body images. Teach them to KNIT and to use a hammer, and a screw driver and to find a partner in life that respects them. You go Stephanie. Loved your first book. Heading off to buy yet another book.

  267. Here’s to having your own checking account and to being with your spouse because you _want_ to be with them, not because you _have_ to be with them. I keep telling my husband of almost two years that cleaning the bathroom is sexy. Thanks Harlot!

  268. You are so right on. Even though my dad showered us with flowers and candy on V-Day, he and my mom had a great saying “you can’t live on love, it doesn’t pay the bills, the landlord won’t accept it in lieu of rent”. In our house, romance is DH offering me ice cream at the end of a hard day. Pretty good deal since it happens way more often than Valentine’s Day.

  269. skunks in the chimney? really? for me it would be spiders in the bathtub or anywere else for that matter.
    p.s. i have a son i’d like your daughters to meet!

  270. oh stephanie… this is the best. amen to every line… thank you for writing this amazing, moving, touching testament to whole-wheat love πŸ™‚

  271. I completely agree. V-day is also my brother’s birthday so it was always a family day growing up. When I left home, I still sent valentines to all my friends because I grew up with the understanding that all love (family, friends, partners) should be honored that day. I hope your daughters take this to heart because it sure made my late teens/early twenties much easier.

  272. I didn’t want to be another cheerleader, but I slept on your words, and the need to say how much they moved me is still on my mind this morning. Thank you .
    Yesterday afternoon, I pre-ordered your next book. I never do that because I like to hold books in my hand before I buy them, but I know I’m going to want it. So who am I kidding.

  273. True, true. That kind of love is sort of like sugar: it can make you giddy, but unless you have something more substantial to back it up, you’ll crash pretty hard. Then again, when you *do* have something more substantial as well, it can be a nice seasoning. There’s also much less to it; it either fades with time, or (in rare cases) remains, but it never grows. I am continually amazed at how much “real” love grows. My husband and I were together for 7 years before we were married (and lived together for two), and we were bowled over by how much it and we grew when the assumption of a commitment was replaced by the promise and upkeep of one. (Not that that can’t occur outside a legally-sanctioned marriage.)

  274. My fiance and I did nothing for Valentine’s Day other than love each other all day. But today? Today is Buy Candy at 50% Off Day. Woohoo!

  275. Know what my hubby did for me for V Day? Fixed the doorknob on the pantry, replaced the shower head in daughter’s bathroom, caught the mouse that was terrorizing the kitchen, and cooked dinner. That is true love and romance. Who needs roses, and a card that will just be thrown away?

  276. My hubby is a darling. He really enjoys the fact that he will find a great buy at the story and comes home with a big-old grin on his face and says “I gotta surprise for you.” The kids all crowd around because they can hear that but they can’t hear that the dishwasher needs to be emptied. And then, with a flourish, he’ll whip out . . . asparagus! I love asparagus. He doesn’t.
    And, he makes me laugh.
    And, he calls yarn “string” (so do I want him buying my yarn?!?)
    And, he holds me and loves me
    And, sometimes, just sometimes, I wouldn’t mind some flowers . . . and on those days when I really really need some, I buy me some!

  277. My husband and I came into a bit of unexpected money at Christmas and spent it all on each other yesterday for Valentine’s Day…$5,000 on our student loans. Only 20 more years or so to go. Whole Wheat Love at its finest! Thanks for your post.

  278. My husband and I came into a bit of unexpected money at Christmas and spent it all on each other yesterday for Valentine’s Day…$5,000 paying off a chunk on our student loans. Only 20 more years or so to go. Whole Wheat Love at its finest! Thanks for your post.

  279. Thank you for this so sensible post!
    I entirely agree with you!
    I know my boyfriend cares about me when he puts the toilet paper roll in its place instead of putting it on top of the flushing water tank (which is what he usually does, and which drives me nuts!)

  280. Couldn’t be spoken better! My husband and I both kinda forgot to get the cards-flowers-chocolate, oops, but he did spend all day shoveling us out of a crazy snow storm, making dinner, and driving me to work and picking me up so that I wouldn’t have to shovel myself out there as well. Now if I could find someway to return that… hmmm, another hand knit sweater perhaps?

  281. Yes and yes and yes again. This was an excellent post.
    My husband is one of the most loving people I’ve ever met; not all women would find what he does for me to be “romantic” but I know it to be true. He’s a wonderful father, a kind and caring man, an excellent role model, someone I admire, and someone who always challenges me to be the best me I can be, no matter what that me happens to be. That is whole wheat love to me. He gives me the twinkie love too, but not as often as the whole wheat love.

  282. A while back my hubby took the time to put silicone windshield whipers on my windshield and put RainX on my windshield. I asked him what all the fuss was about, he said he wanted me safer when driving in the rain. I have never had a man in my life who loved me like that…and I love it. BUT, he also got me a box of chocolate truffles from our favorite chocolate place and a gift certificate for STR. I love that too. He knows me, and THATS what I love.

  283. “it seems to me that romantic love, given completely free rein and allowed to run wild through civilization, has been responsible for more… generalized rack and ruin than any other human emotion in the whole world…”
    You’ve definitely got something there, but I would put it second to religion.
    That quibble aside, amazing post. I hope one thing my daughter is learning from having a severely disabled brother is the true meaning of “for better or for worse.”

  284. My son is two years old, and my daughter currently resides in my belly for another five-or-so months, but I’m printing out a copy of this post and putting it in each of their memory boxes, because I’ve never heard it put any better than you have…

  285. So perfect, and so true.
    Funny, some friends were discussing this yesterday online – many of us have learned that ‘the great romantic love’ fades at the first bump in the road, and the guy is out the door, and society then looks at the woman and says ‘but you’re not married yet . . .’ Whereas, real love, as in ‘caring about the other person as a friend and human being, wanting to be sure they’re happy, and doing simple things to help the other person get along’, seems to last and be much more reliable . . .

  286. Thank you so much for this, Stephanie. I teared up whilst reading it, went and got my Beloved, made him read it then told him how much I appreciated not only the chocolates and slow, romantic dance but the immense amount of wonderful parenting he’s put in over the last few days and the supportive love he gave me when I was having a seriously tough day yesterday.
    We both love your phrase ‘love with teeth’ and I think that one might catch on around here. Incidentally, Warren Ellis says that Valentine’s Day is a Christian remake of a pagan festival and really was should be wishing each other ‘Happy Horny Werewolf Day’*. So if you can’t get your head around the hearts and flowers, there’s always the fur and teeth!
    * The Roman festival of Lupercalia which was held on the 15th February, it was supposed to ward off evil spirits and increase fertility.

  287. My dad always got chocolates for everyone on valentine’s day- my Mom and all 4 kids. I always thought it was sweet that we were all his valentines. Your post has made me appreciate the meaning behind that gesture even more. It really was a celebration of all love. Thanks.

  288. Steph, if you weren’t already my hero, this commentary on love would make you so. As a divorced 30-something, I’m quite happy being *alone* and I appreciate others who can understand that. I wonder if I pinned a copy of your post to her ‘fridge, if my grandmother would read it…

  289. Amen! My hubby bought me chocolate and all that this year, but the thing I appreciated most was the two loads of laundry he did and the way he took an interest in the movie I was watching, even though it was something he doesn’t normally like. Yay for real love and down with that frilly pink ideal of love!

  290. I read this post yesterday and was moved to appreciative tears – of your post, of my husband and of my own sense of self and family. I had to read it again today and add my first post. Thank you, Stephanie. Your humor cracks me up while the profundity of your message sits in my heart like the most valuable treasure around. The most romantic thing my partner said to me lately, while we were sorting mail or something mundane like that, “I’m so glad that we’re both still motivated to follow our own dreams and support each other along the way.” This after I quit my job and have been searching for the next “right” job for the last two months! A card has never made me weak in the knees quite like that! Thank you for sharing such a positive spin on what love really is! Whole wheat power!

  291. Truer words have rarely been spoken. I was telling one of my colleagues about “whole wheat love” v. “twinkie love” yesterday. She said that if her husband brought her flowers she would know that he was having an affair! She volunteered that the person you want is the person with the bucket when you are sick. My mom always told us that we could fall in love after we graduated from college and had a job. I think we all took it pretty much to heart and didn’t marry until much later. We’ve had two marriages (out of four) that didn’t last, but we’ve all landed on our feet with folks who are both romantic, but pragmatic. I think my guys (19 and 22 and quite fine if I say so myself) grew up with a wonderful dad who is the cook and driver and father confessor). They have great friends who are girls and will be wonderful husbands and fathers – after they graduate from college and have jobs!

  292. As a 20-something single girl, THANK YOU for this post.
    I was brought up by parents who think a lot like you do and at home I’ve never felt there was something wrong with my life. Out in the world, though, it’s a different story. Even very close friends push me to date, marry, have kids already! I’ve not found someone yet with whom I can imagine a truly shared life–and it’s not something I’m willing to compromise on.
    Again, thank you.

  293. Wow, we are on the same wavelength. Three months ago I signed my divorce papers, ending 11 years of marriage, the last two of which were dominated by control and abuse. I chose, at 31 years of age, to be alone; I was unprepared for society’s reaction. I refuse to allow my Wee Men to grow up with *that* as their example of how to treat a woman, or anyone you love, for that matter. Girls especially need this type of reminder and upbringing; thank you for voicing it so eloquently (as usual!).

  294. For good or for bad, you and your lovely Joe are the example that your daughters will follow when they are older. In 20, 25, 30 years, you’ll look at the kids and grandkids, and realize that your daughters have married men that may not necessarily be their dad, but their marriages will so closely resemble yours that it will astound you. Trust me on this – I observe, I’ve seen it happen. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  295. This is a great post, thanks for writing it!
    But … one thing …
    Skunks? In the … CHIMNEY?
    Gads, and I thought I had it bad when a family of skunks moved into the crawlspace under the house.
    *runs off to barricade the chimney*

  296. I love the “whole wheat love” vs. “Twinkie love” analogy. I may have to borrow that from you.

  297. As long as you live on whole wheat, there’s nothing wrong with a Twinkie occasionally. Just be sure you get them both from the same ‘vendor.’ My DH and I have a very whole wheat relationship, but have ‘twinkie moments’ occasionally.

  298. Hmmm. People thought me and my husband were so wierd when we got married… we asked for two hampers and they asked: “For lights and darks?” and simply stared when I said: “No, his and hers.” And it was his idea. I cook and he washes dishes. When the day comes to have little ones, he wants to be a stay at home dad. He has never bought me a red rose. He gets me Smarties and Sweet-tarts instead of chocolate (allergic to the chocolate).
    And, he does get me flowers. But only my favorites. We laugh and say we’ve got “good enough” love. We’re best friends first.

  299. I am skipping through reading the 40-bazillion other comments to stand in the horde and hold up my lit lighter in supoort. That was possibly one of the best things I’ve read about romance and love.
    BTW, I’ve always liked the idea, perversely, that in ancient Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, was often approached almost in a fearful way. She was embodied as petty as well. I think that nails the “V-day” romantic love bundle pretty well – you can’t really trust it.

  300. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I loved this post. I’ve been trying to not let it get to me, but all the hearts and flowers this week have been making me a little sad about being alone. Your post definitely helped. Yesterday I talked to my parents and cousin and friends and cuddled with my kitten and that all counts as love too.

  301. Enduring love? When the valentine gift from the DH is a salad shooter machine and a head of lettuce to try out the salad shooter. Or the new sweeper. It’s love when the wife of these gifts forgets the diamonds and flowers and continues to remain married to this DH. hee-hee That’s true honest to goodness love.

  302. When I was younger, my mother used to tell me that “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”. It might be nice to have one from time to time, but they aren’t a necessity for life. Granted, I may be a little bitter being single and all, but I still try to remember that amid all the hearts and flower displays that threaten to eat you alive if you happen to venture into a store on Valentine’s Day.

  303. Hoorah!
    As I approached my tenth anniversary I started really yearning for love songs on the radio that celebrated real Whole Wheat Love, instead of Twinkie love. It annoyed me to think that my younger friends were holding out for this idealized ‘lurve’ and nothing I could say about the Whole Wheat variety was going to make it sound exciting enough to cut through the saccharine.
    PS I think your girls will be just fine!

  304. Three cheers for damn good point! The first man that I dated who actually treated me as an equal is the man that I married. Coincidentally, he is the first man that ever made my toes really curl and made my tummy do all sorts of flips. Who says that feminism isn’t romantic?
    If I ever feel in the mood for schmaltzy V-Day love, I read a Nora Roberts book. That stuff doesn’t belong in the real world. πŸ˜€

  305. I really liked your post. Yesterday I had a great Valentine’s Day, but I realized why that was…as I told my fiance, it is fun to celebrate, but I enjoy Valentine’s Day much more than I did in high school or college because now it isn’t a make-or-break holiday. Sure, it was nice that he bought be some tuplips (which I like much more than roses) and we went out to dinner, but we show that we love each other in little ways every day with all the things we do for each other and the way we support each other and are how we are there for the bad days too. If you look at Valentine’s Day as another day to show you really love each other (in a whole wheat sort of way) instead of one of those few special days of the year when you make some sort of cliche effort it is much happier.

  306. Oh, I love this. Very well put. It makes me think of a quote from a Terry Pratchett book a friend of mine quoted to me:
    Miss Tick sniffed. “You could say this advice is priceless,” she said. “Are you listening?”
    “Yes,” said Tiffany.
    “Good. Now…if you trust in yourself…”
    “Yes?”
    “…and believe in your dreams…”
    “Yes?”
    “…and follow your star…” Miss Tick went on.
    “Yes?”
    “…you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Good-bye.
    Thinking that love is all you need, and that it will take no effort, is like thinking if you just wish on a star you’ll get everything you want. Dreams are important, but they take hard work to come true, not just wishing.
    And the most important person to love and respect in this world is yourself–I know that can sound selfish, but it is true. And no one needs another person to “complete” them–that is a scary thought indeed.
    Rock on, Stephanie!

  307. Heh. I just read your post on Valentine’s love and what do I find when I hop back to my yahoo mail? two ads. “Get on the love boat” and “Make Love Happen ™ now!”
    Sigh.
    Love the sweater. Dunno how you have time to knit so much of it until you say it is minus lots outside, then I sorta go umm, yeah. It is plus lots here and going to get hotter.

  308. Whole wheat and single, knitter, spinster, cat lady, opportunistic vegetarian (but don’t hold me to it), incurable wanderer and blogger, international research coordinator, midwife wannabe. What time have I for some half person to distract me with his visions of Twinkie Love? None at all, I tell you.

  309. Fab-U-LOUS! So so true. Your guy sounds like a keeper. And your daughters, having not been raised on Twinkie love, will be just great too! Keep on purlin’. And for that matter, keep on pearlin’, for this post is pearl of wisdom!

  310. I do get your point, and it was well written, but personally, I have everyday love from my family. We end every phone call with “love you”. We give frequent hugs.
    Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers as defined by its history. I love getting flowers and a card. My husband, who is overseas, gets cards, plus Valentine’s Day card, perfumed and covered with lipstick kisses.
    Everyday love, I get every day. Chores are shared, money is shared, bank accounts joint and separate. I could go on. Anyway, we have been married 21 years, mostly happily. I for one, will always enjoy the “twinkie” Valentine’s Day even though I eat whole wheat bread every day.

  311. “Romantic love has been responsible for more poor decision making, wars, kidnapping, obsession, suicide, low self-esteem and generalized rack and ruin than any other human emotion in the whole world” Over the course of history more people were killed or injured in the name of God, then in any other name. So I think romantic love isn’t the number one in this context: it’s passion. Passion about a woman, a man or a religion. Romantic love usually kills just one or two people, but passion can result in a complete slaughter…
    But then again, romantic love and passion make the world a much more beautiful and fun place. However, you’re absolutely right to state that love alone won’t make a marriage work.

  312. I couldn’t have said it better. I did get chocolates from my old man on V-Day but what meant more to me was that he also offered to do the dishes, which he has somehow avoided doing for the past week (a situation which I was beginning to get a bit disgruntled about.)
    Romantic love is for silly teenagers who don’t know anything about how life really works. Teach yours well, my dear.

  313. You need love with teeth – these are words to live by. V-Day here is all about family. Dad gives to the girls, mom (me) to the boy, grandma and grandpa get in on the act too. The day starts with lots of present opening and hugging. Teenager has a boyfriend on V-Day for the first time, but she did not continue the celebration with him after school. A card and teddy bear was her present, she gave him a new skater hat. If V-Day was the only day I was shown appreciation, I’d be on the first bus outta here. I’m very verbal about the fact that a man washing the bathroom is a real turn-on.
    Love your posts – they’re food for the spirit.

  314. This post was the best thing I’ve read in a long time…I’m sending a link to all my nieces AND nephews. I do believe stumbling onto this (while searching around for yarnwork) was my favorite Valentine’s gift ever.
    Thanks!

  315. And now you know why I refer to February 14th as National Egg Sucking Day! Yes I am single, yes I hate it, but yes, I am a single whole individual who lives her life to the fullest without an extra wing!
    Thank you Stephanie for saying what I have felt for YEARS!!!
    Ann in Annapolis

  316. my mom used to tell me that moms have to love their kids- that’s not impressive at all. but, she said, she liked me, and that was the really impressive part of being us. she always got us valentines to show us that relationship- the “like” being the voluntary part, and SO much better.
    your daughters are very lucky- some commenters focused on divorce as a way to get away from the sticky-sweet love they once believed in, but the practicality you’re helping them with will (eventually) lead them to make good decisions about people and relationships. they can protect their individuality, and keep bank accounts and the whatnot, but not hoarde them for “just in case.”
    i say “eventually” because no matter how many times you tell them or how well you tell them, they will likely fall for princess love once or twice- it is so shiny and attractive. most people wind up realizing what they really need i think, or they spend a long time unhappy.
    here’s to being in love with ourselves first, that we might be able to love those around us that much better, and ultimately, surround ourselves with those we like.

  317. my mom used to tell me that moms have to love their kids- that’s not impressive at all. but, she said, she liked me, and that was the really impressive part of being us. she always got us valentines to show us that relationship- the “like” being the voluntary part, and SO much better.
    your daughters are very lucky- some commenters focused on divorce as a way to get away from the sticky-sweet love they once believed in, but the practicality you’re helping them with will (eventually) lead them to make good decisions about people and relationships. they can protect their individuality, and keep bank accounts and the whatnot, but not hoarde them for “just in case.”
    i say “eventually” because no matter how many times you tell them or how well you tell them, they will likely fall for princess love once or twice- it is so shiny and attractive. most people wind up realizing what they really need i think, or they spend a long time unhappy.
    here’s to being in love with ourselves first, that we might be able to love those around us that much better, and ultimately, surround ourselves with those we like.

  318. This is why I adore you. Forget the knitting content. I’m only a mediocre knitter anyway (and I don’t even drink). But the empowerment. The flying in the face of the crazy messages that we as a society tolerate being foisted on our young.
    You have this great platform to speak from, and you use it for the forces of good. Yay, you.

  319. My DH of 32 years bought me a hand-split rock fireplace for our log cabin for valentine’s day- we git it-we got it- good!

  320. My DH of 32 years bought me a hand-split rock fireplace for our log cabin for valentine’s day- we git it-we got it- good!

  321. My DH of 32 years bought me a hand-split rock fireplace for our log cabin for valentine’s day- we git it-we got it- good!

  322. I loved this post. I used to be more of a twinkie love kind of girl but after an affair and divorce (from my youth pastor husband) two years ago that left me a single mom I am becoming much more of a whole wheat love kinda girl. πŸ™‚ I am finding that I don’t care so much about the flowers and all that as I once did. And I think that is a good thing.

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