Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Operation Valentinus

Okay, poppets. Here's the deal. Valentine's Day is three weeks away. I know, I know. Ugh. Why remind you so far in advance? Well, it is all part of my cunning plan.

Valentine's Day can be a tough day for everybody. If you're Single with no sweetie, you feel utterly left out. If you're Single with a sweetie, you are a mass of anxiety. Will he propose? Will she like the scarf I bought her, or would she rather some furry earmuffs? (Jewellery? Wha---?) If you're Married, you have a nervous eye on the bank account. If you're a Priest, you may find yourself booked for overtime comforting crying Singles and disappointed Wives. And the cheap Valentine's Day stuff in John Lewis department store in Edinburgh is so tacky, I wonder myself, "Why bother?"

Frankly, there's not much we can do for Married people on Valentine's Day, short of suggesting that the female half of the comedy duo not have any expectations. Yes, she can expect a card and maybe a box of drug store chocolate because, unless he's blind, her husband is going to know that it is indeed Valentine's Day and that women love Valentine's Day and that husbands who ignore Valentine's Day get into trouble. But don't expect roses with petals like velvet and ruby earrings. If you do get them, they will be a delightful surprise. But if you expect nothing, and then get a new pair of suede gloves or a juicer, that will be a delightful surprise too.

Let us turn to Single people, both the merely anxious and the utterly left out. I want you to make a list of your Single friends. Women, get a pen and a piece of paper. Start writing. I can wait. Write, write, write.

Okay, now, look at my statistics on Single people and their attitudes towards Valentine's Day presents. It's on the right-hand side. (Scroll up a bit.) If you can't see it, type in your browser and find if you can see it now. (Feb 4 Update: Poll gone. Just see below for the results.)

Welcome back. My Valentine's Day present results show that the vast majority of Singles who answered the poll would be delighted to receive a Valentine's Day card and chocolate on Valentine's Day. Of them, 33 would be delighted if a Single friend sent them and 3 would be cheesed off. Then 22 would be delighted if a Married female friend sent them and 8 would be ticked. Finally, 28 would be delighted if a relation sent ye olde card or candy, and 6 would be annoyed.

Now look at your list.

The Mission

If you are a Single woman, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to send chocolates and/or cards to the people on your Singles list. If you're short of cash, just pick the first 3-5. Make the girls priority.

If you are a Married woman, you are sending stuff, too, only you're going to think much more carefully about this. Cross off the Singles on your list who have serious sometimes-I-hate-you-now-that-you-are-married stuff they're still struggling with.

If you are a relation, go for it, but NOT if you have a track record of asking at every family function, "Find anybody yet, honey? Oh, too bad! Maybe if you...blah blah blah." Pick the sisters, nieces, grand-daughters and aunts you send presents to at Christmas. Don't make this Valentine's Day the only time in a year you've communicated, or they may mistake your sudden rush of affection for nagging. And Mom always deserves a card. Always. For any occasion.

Men should think very, very carefully before taking on this mission themselves. Go look up the meaning of "Bull in a China Shop." Valentines and chocolates from Single men friends to Single female friends will usually be construed as courtship gifts unless their platonic friendship is of long and firmly platonic standing. Chocolates and cards from a married man, a priest or a elderly widower can freak girls right out.

Meanwhile, women should think carefully about which Single men friends they might send stuff to, for how terrible if the Single man friend should take this as the signal to carry you off to Gretna Green or Los Vegas. Eeek!

The Message

For Operation Valentinus, a blank card with a cute front is the best medium.

Single women are in a position of moral strength and assurance when sending Valentine's Day cards to other women. They can write, to Singles with no sweeties, "From one Single to another, Happy Valentine's Day." Writing this to Singles with sweeties, Singles who might be hoping for The Ring that day, is a bit trickier. "Friends Forever" is a nice sentiment that doesn't stress a perhaps onerous Singleness.

Married women might want to use this "Friends Forever" message. Or they could underscore what they and Single Pal still have in common: i.e. femininity. "Girls Rule!" would work for me.

Relations can ponder their relationship to their beloved Single relation in their message. Sometimes no message is necessary. The best Valentine's Day present of my entire life was a box of gold-wrapped chocolate hearts that just mysteriously appeared on my desk. It was from my dad. Dear old Dad has no sisters, went to a boarding school for boys, is really not into girls' stuff. But some impulse made him buy all his unmarried daughters at home chocolate hearts that year. And I was, like, "Yay! Best Dad in the universe!"

I really hadn't been expecting anything that day, and so Dad's gift was such a nice surprise, I want to pass it on in the shape of Operation Valentinus here.

The Acceptance

If you are Single and you receive Valentine's Day chocolate and/or cards from your other Single friends, from your Married friend or from your relations, your mission is to enjoy them. When a suitor gives you something, unless it is an engagement ring, it might be (in the long run) meaningless. Suitors come and go. But if your female friend or your relative gives you something, it does mean something. It means that people care for you. You have friends. You have real love in your life, even if it's not the kind of love peddled by the Disney movies. So bathe in it. Eat the yummy chocolates and send a thank-you note.

Meanwhile, my little Singles and Marrieds, if you take on this mission, I can assure you that when you wake up on Valentine's Day, you will not do it with dread. You will do so knowing that you have done your bit to take care of your beloved Single friends on a psychologically difficult day. You rule.

P.S. Don't send anything until Feb. 1. And write "Don't open until Feb 14" on the envelope or package. The goal is to give beloved Singles a lift on the actual day itself.


aussie girl in australia said...

In Australia we don't really do Valentine's Day unless you are in a relationship and generally under 50 years old. (my mother never recieved a Valentine until very recently when Dad finally caved under the pressure of his daughters!)
Kids don't give Valentines to each other (or they didnt when I was at school) and parents dont give to their kids.
The year I was in Canada I discovered Valentines for what it is in North America! This was the year I recieved the nicest Valentine ever. I was working as a Nanny and the kid's Dad came home from work with Flowers for his wife, chocolates for his daughters......and chocolates and a single flower for me! It was not in a creepy way mind you, it was to genuintly show appreciation for the care and attention I showed his daughters. It was so sweet and heartfelt I was nearly bowled over. Even though I had recieved lots of lovely present from boyfriends in the past (including jewelry), this was the nicest Valentine ever.

theobromophile said...

Love it! :)

Last year, my then-10-year-old brother gave me a box of Godiva chocolates. Coolest little brother ever! :)