February 14 is in three weeks. I’m writing an article about it for TrueU.org, the premise of which is that I don’t like Valentine’s Day because it’s a mandatory romance day. Guys (and girls) are required to be romantic on that day because, if they don’t, they will face serious, serious consequences.

Why? Because you have to do something romantic on Valentine’s Day. You just have to, even if it’s the least you can do, like stopping by the supermarket on the way home from work and dashing through the gauntlet of nervous, sweaty men and grabbing a card without reading it (is it pink? OK, it’ll work) then snatching an overpriced bouquet of flowers and quick-stepping past some old lady so you can beat her to the Express Lane. There. You’ve done your duty. Yay! See how much you love your wife/girlfriend?

But showing love and being romantic out of obligation really isn’t true love or authentic romance.

Bringing home flowers that one day a year, giving chocolate that one day just because it’s tradition, hastily picking a card and scratching your name on it as a way to fulfill expectations…well, that’s just not romantic. At least not to me. Real romance is thoughtful. Real romance is unexpected. Real romance is creative. Valentine’s Day romance is none of these. (At least, it isn’t the way it’s usually celebrated. You can certainly make it meaningful by adding thoughtfulness and surprise and creativity to the romantic gesture. I’d tell you how to do it, but that’s sorta the gist of the article. So you’ll have to wait a few weeks.)

Anyway, am I off-base? Is Valentine’s Day just something that greeting card companies and chocolate-makers and flower shops have conspired to subject you to in order to drive sales during the slow part of February? Feels that way to me.

…and yet, if you ignore it, you’re toast. Better start thinking about it now. You’ve been warned.

So. How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What do you do to make it special and meaningful and not just a day you’re obligated to give a gift? What’s the best V-Day gift you’ve ever given (or received)?

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