Valentines, Shmalentines

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email that opened with this: “Not interested in Valentine’s content?” It continued, very sympathetically: We understand this time can be tough. If you would prefer not to receive Valentine’s Day emails this year, you can opt out by simply clicking below. With love, your Etsy friends.

The whole thing made me wonder. Are American consumers so delicate that we can’t deal with Valentine’s Day if we’re without a valentine of our own? Will retailers now follow suit and spare people who are sadly bereft of a mother from the onslaught of Mother’s Day marketing? Or offer non-holiday shoppers relief from the five months-long Christmas advertising blitz?

Valentine’s Day has murky origins. Apparently, there were three different men named Valentine who achieved sainthood. Their individual stories differ, and are not particularly romantic. However, regarding the celebration of love on February 14, there’s this: In the Middle Ages in England and France, that date was commonly believed to be the start of mating season for birds, and thus, a day for romance. Somewhere along the way, those sexy Greek and Roman gods, Eros and Cupid, added their classical spice to the mix.

The oldest known valentine still in existence is a poem written in 1415. I haven’t been able to find the original text, so it may or may or may have gone something like this: Roses are red, violets are blue, thou hast the face of an olde cockatoo.

Times have changed, and romantic love has taken a beating in the past few decades. While I understand the yearning for a knight in shining armor who gallops across the moat carrying a dozen perfect red roses and a two pound box of Godiva, most princesses have moved on toward the notion that true love comes in different flavors, and doesn’t always arrive in the form of a macho man on his high horse.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

More and more women are celebrating Galentine’s Day. Marketers have picked up on the vibe, offering “Cupid is Stupid” specials at taverns, restaurants, and entertainment halls. At least one establishment in town advertises a special axe-throwing night for women only. Makes me wonder what shape or form the axe’s target resembles. Also turns my imagination toward a great plot idea for a Rom-Com Crime story.

This year, the Houston Museum of Natural Science invited its members to contemplate the mutual attraction of our Earth and Moon (above). They also encouraged those of us among the Valentine- or Galentine-perplexed to “Take a Bite out of Love” by giving our special someone this: a cockroach that can be cherished, or squished like a bug, according to your heart’s desire.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Valentine’s and Galentine’s Days have another sibling. It’s called Palentine’s Day and it gives us all a chance to tell our best buddies that we love and appreciate them. I like this choice the best.

So today, I wish everyone—my readers, friends, family, and colleagues alike—a very Happy Palentine’s Day!

What’s your favorite thing to do on February 14th?

Gay Yellen is the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the upcoming Body in the News!


Clicking Our Heels – Shopping for Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanza

Clicking Our Heels – Shopping for Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanza 

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or nothing, it is the shopping season of the year. Some of us are last minute shoppers, some shop all year round. Today, we explore our shopping styles and what, if we could tell someone special what we wanted this year, what it would be (hint, hint).

Debra Sennefelder– I start shopping for Christmas during the week of Thanksgiving. But I’m always thinking about gifts for family and friends all year long. I’d love to receive a cross pendant necklace in silver.

Lois Winston – I usually start thinking about holiday gifts at Thanksgiving. If I see something I know will be perfect for someone on my list, I’ll buy it when I see it. I don’t like being pressured at the last minute and would rather enjoy the holidays without having to shop ‘til I drop. As for what I want this year, how about world peace and an end to the climate crisis?

Dru Ann Love – Most of my family are adults so I tend to gift them something they need when they need it. If I want something, I tend to get it myself because chances are no one can afford to give it to me.

Kathryn Lane – It depends. I’m not a shopper so gift shopping can be difficult. If I see a perfect gift for someone, I’ll get it even if the holidays are months away. In other cases, I’m up against the deadline. For this holiday, I’d like a chip implant that would help my brain retain what I read!

Debra H. Goldstein – I’m a last minute shopper (gift cards and checks are me). My first thought for a gift is world peace, but I’d also like a) personal peace, b) a book contract on a silver platter, c) a month at the beach with family and friends dropping in.

MaryLee Salsbury Woods – Over the years, I’ve unfortunately become less prepared for the holiday so I tend to shop late. Thankfully the grandchildren are very good at creating wish lists so I have good options to choose from when I do get busy shopping. As far as what’s on my wish list, my family knows that what I value most is time together and one year they went together and planned a small getaway. Both sons and families, my husband, and I and a long weekend. It was just the best gift ever. So, I pick another one of those!

Donnell Ann Bell – I wait until December. With six grandchildren who are growing rapidly, I want to make sure their sizes are correct.

T.K. Thorne – I am always a last minute shopper and really hate the whole thing (except when I find something perfect!). So the rule now is only the kids get presents.  Takes some pressure off.  // What would I want?  The most precious gift is time, so I would ask for time with my husband having an adventure together somewhere beautiful.

Shari Randall/Meri Allen – I like a deadline, so I’m a late shopper. Shopping online has taken a bit of the fun out of shopping and if I shop online I promptly forget what I’ve purchased and end up with too much or too little. I’ve learned to relax and enjoy shopping close to the holiday, so I can enjoy the decorations and music. As far as what I want this year, it’s the same as always – I love books and things that smell good!

Lynn McPherson – I love Christmas shopping. I have very few people to buy for (my kids, husband, and two secret Santa gifts for extended family) so for me I enjoy the hustle and bustle of the lights, the sales, and the excitement.

Saralyn Richard – I’m not a great shopper. If I happen to see something that I think someone would like at any time during the year, I’ll buy it and put it away for the holiday. So many people on my list prefer gift cards to gifts these days. I understand their thinking, but (sigh) personally feel it takes some of the fun out of gift-giving and receiving. My favorite gifts are things that people I love have selected for me, and I can look at them and celebrate our relationship.

Barbara J. Eikmeier – I shop early then lose track of what I got for everyone and make a frantic last minute shopping trip only to discover I have bought duplicates! The one thing I always ask for but haven’t gotten (yet) is a complete detailing of my car including cleaning the dirt off the inside bottom of the doors.

Linda Rodriguez – Normally, I like to take care of my holiday gift shopping early, but I have noticed that during the pandemic I have been caught short and had to resort to emergency measures for my gift shopping, the kind I used to make fun of my brothers for doing.