I have to say, folks, that on Friday I tried really hard to stay off social media. Especially Facebook. I couldn’t bear to see all the hearts and flowers, all the mushy messages, and public displays of affection. “Bah humbug,” I said, as I clicked away and went back to my murder mystery. That’s because Valentine’s Day passed with barely a ripple of acknowledgement in our house. Not because we aren’t given to mushy sentiments. But because Hubby has now come down with my cold, and we decided to postpone Valentine’s Day. Indefinitely. Neither of us had the energy to participate in the pseudo-love fest that is February 14.

Playing kissy face on Rab Island, in Croatia. October 2019.
Pseudo-kissy-faces on Rab Island, Croatia. 2019

Let me tell you how that postponement happened. Last week, I was all good intentions. I had purchased Hubby’s Valentine card on a trip to the drugstore to fill my antibiotic prescription, and was contemplating what I could come up with for dinner that would be celebratory enough to mark the occasion. And easy enough not to necessitate digging through my cookbooks for inspiration, and running all over town looking for special ingredients, chocolate cupcakes, and a good bottle of wine when I still felt pretty miserable. Not to mention the hours I’d probably spend in the kitchen making my special pasta, or something equally labour intensive.

So, on Monday, I sat at my desk, sighing over my conundrum, when Hubby yelled from the kitchen to ask if this Friday or next Friday was garbage day. We have every other week garbage pick-up. I replied subtly, “Do you mean, this upcoming Friday… February 14th?” There was mostly silence in return, followed by a muttered expletive. To be honest, neither of us was feeling well. Hubby was showing signs he’d picked up my bug; hard to believe he took so long, isn’t it? So I emerged from the den with a proposal. We’d eliminate Valentine’s Day this year. Ignore it. Totally. And one night when we were both feeling better, we’d go to the Red Dot Cafe over in Osgoode for supper. You know, I have never seen a man look as relieved as Hubby did at that moment.

Hubby loves the Red Dot. And so do I. Great steaks, good draft beer, wonderful homemade pie, and a folksy, down-to-earth vibe that suits us entirely. Last time we were there we could hardly wade through the snowmobile helmets at the door. You’ve got to love a country restaurant where snowmobilers can still drive their machines right up to the door, don’t you? Thus the Valentine’s Day conundrum was solved for both of us.

Hubby and I grinning on the sofa early in our relationship.
Young love. Or younger love. At Hubby’s mother’s home. New Year’s Day, 1986.

Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been a conundrum in our house, of course. We rarely celebrate by going out, preferring a nice dinner at home in front of the fire. And despite the fact that Hubby has usurped most of my duties in the kitchen these last few years, Valentine’s Day has always been my gig.

Mostly this transpired because in the early years, when we were both still teaching, Hubby coached several teams, usually had games to coach two days a week after school, and on two other days he played hockey himself. So most nights he wasn’t home until well after I was. And on Wednesdays (his late hockey night) he was often not home until 7:30. I seem to recall that Valentine’s Day fell on Wednesdays a lot back then. But that’s perhaps just my perception.

I do know that one Wednesday Valentine’s night, I rushed around after work, collecting everything for our special supper, built the fire in the fireplace in the living room, made dinner and had it ready to warm up. Then I changed into the only skimpy, black lacy thing I’ve ever owned, opened the wine, lit the candles in the living room, turned out all the lights in the house, and waited. When Hubby came through the door with his hockey bag, I was ready. Glass of wine in hand, I lolled in the candlelight on pillows arranged in front of the fire in my best imitation of a seductive pose, and patted the cushions next to me. Hubby stood in the doorway, still in his coat and toque, and gaped. Then he giggled nervously.

Oh god, I’m laughing as I write this. Vamp is not my normal state. I don’t know how I did that without laughing myself.

That was the only year I pulled that stunt. Once Hubby’s initial shock wore off, I got dressed; I was freezing. I put the pillows back on the sofa. We drank the wine, ate dinner by candlelight in front of the fire, and had a good laugh. I guess vamp and vamp’s victim are roles that suit neither of us. Ha.

As luck, or leap year, would have it, the next year Valentine’s Day fell on his late hockey night again. Hubby told me later, that as he was leaving the rink with a buddy, he sighed a long-suffering sigh, and said to his friend, “Jeeze. I’ll probably go home. The house will be dark. And Suz will pounce on me the minute I get in the door.” He said his friend looked at him, blinked, and after a minute, responded ruefully, “When I get home and the house is dark it means nobody’s home.”

Gad I love that story. Makes me laugh every time I think of it.

This was my favourite Facebook post on Valentine’s Day. My friend Janice’s twin daughters, above, working on their Valentine’s Day cards the night before. So cute. Remember doing that?

I remember nagging Mum for weeks not to forget to buy my Valentines. Addressing cards for every classmate, plus a few friends in other classes. And then feverishly delivering them on Valentines Day morning. We all had “mailbags” attached to our desks, colourful paper bags that we’d decorated in class the day before. Then the excitement of the Valentine’s Day class party when we opened all of our cards. And finally, the principal of our little elementary school in Marysville, New Brunswick would deliver polar bars (chocolate covered ice cream bars for the non-initiated) to every kid. Oh my, that was a huge deal for us back in the day.

Sadly, for Hubby and me, this year there were no cards, no chocolate covered ice cream bars. No lolling in front of the fire. Ha. No special dinner. By mutual agreement, Hubby and I said “bah humbug” to the whole thing. And pretty much ignored Valentine’s Day. Actually, Hubby blissfully forgot about it… again. And I tried to ignore all the syrupy sentiment, the hearts and flowers, and mushy murmurings on Facebook and Instagram. Except for Janice’s post.

I don’t entirely buy into all the palaver over Valentine’s Day. I remember how I used to hate it when I was single. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be mushy on Valentine’s Day. Or that I can’t be mushy. I can. Just not this February 14. But, there’s always next year. And in the meantime, there’s our dinner at the Red Dot. I’m looking forward to that.

I hope you all had a good Valentine’s Day. Or if Valentine’s Day is not your thing, I hope you had a good week, and an even better weekend.

And now, it’s your turn now, my friends. Any funny Valentine’s Day stories you want to share with us? Or any opinions on the day. Or on anything, really.


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39 thoughts on “Valentine’s Humbug”

      1. So funny, Sue! That was laugh out loud funny! Thanks for sharing your Valentine’s thoughts. We also postponed Valentine’s Day until Saturday the 15th! Who says you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Valentine’s Day!?

  1. I too laughed at the story of Stu’s rueful comment. It’s not a favourite day for me, in general, and when young I loathed it with all my heart. In part because I didn’t get cards – which was no surprise – but because other girls made such a to-do about it. Things changed in later years but it was hardly a big cross on my calendar. Not big in schools here either.

    1. Stu’s faux rueful comment. His buddy was the true rueful one. Ha. Valentine’s Day only got hard for me after I grew out of the “give everyone in my class a card” age. Then it got dicey, and precipitated more loneliness than it cured.

  2. I thought when you said you were laid out waiting for Stu , ‘ like a ham salad ‘ as my mum used to say , he’d brought a friend back for supper ! So it could have been worse . Schools here never got involved in Valentine’s Day & it was interesting to read your Canadian traditions . We buy each other cards but that’s all . No prezzies or red roses . We have booked in at our favourite restaurant Skosh but next week after the rush . There will be no steaks . The menu is quite incomprehensible but we always love it . Makes a change from our other favourite , curry . Isn’t it great when a cold leaves you at last

    1. Stu loved your possible complication. Gad. Doesn’t even bear thinking about. Ha. What I hate about Valentine’s Day are the knee jerk response roses, the super mushy posts on Facebook. And Stu hates all of the “expectation” stuff.
      P.S. I was getting tired of writing Valentine’s Day and started to abbreviate it to the initials, like IG or FB. NOT a good idea. Ha ha.

      1. hahaha – a wonderful LOL moment. And I loved the V-Day giggle too! 😉
        My ex-partner’s birthday was on Feb 14th, so Valentines was almost non-existent in my past life. Hubby now (completely different chap!) – that’s a whole other matter… and flowers have become a bit of a laugh in our house.
        Our first “stayover” date he’d bought some flowers on his lunch break, then he planned on them being at his house when we returned from our lovely meal out. It was a lovely hot summer in 2006, so sadly they were all dead! 🥀 He had to explain when he gave them to me. (The Winnie-the-pooh bear made up for it though, and take pride of place in our bedroom now!)
        He’s continued to have problems with giving me flowers – another time they froze in the garden shed, twice the delivery driver “claimed” not to be able to find my workplace… The list goes on. Bless him, he’s kept trying. Now he tends to get them delivered to our home or picks them up himself and then gives them immediately he gets home… He’s learned his lesson. I even got some a couple of weeks ago – just because. ❤️
        This year, I arranged for flowers to be delivered to him on V-Day – I’ve done it once or twice in 14 years – and he loved them. Sometimes it’s good to switch things around! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lovely memories!I can imagine the situation….
    When I was young ,I’ve only read about Valentine’s Day in books or seen in movies-it was apsolutely not acknowledged here before mid nineties,we’ve had only Women’s Day on March the eight. I remember thinking how stressful Valentine’s Day must have been ,so many expectations….
    Now,it is as everywhere else,but for our generation it is very simple,no big fuss,maybe flowers-I prefer dinner on some other day.
    Hope that Stu gets well soon

    1. Thanks Dottoressa. He has been coughing up a storm but seems to be past the worst. You are right about the Valentine’s Day expectations. That’s the part that gets me. And all the band wagon comments on social media.

  4. Love the vamp story. And Stu’s alarmed thought that you might repeat it.

    A nice Valentine’s story – My 5 year old grandson is in Kindergarten and was looking forward to Valentine’s Day (cupcakes would be provided). Instructions came home that indicated no class list would be provided with individual names, instead children should just practice writing their own name on the cards–22 were needed. Offended by this impersonal instruction, my grandson promptly started naming each classmate and asked his mother to help him with the spelling while he wrote each a personal card, plus two more–one for his teacher and another for the class aide. He may not have followed instructions, but he did follow his heart.

  5. I love your stories, and I too have been sick, not once, but twice this winter. Darned cold before and during Christmas hung around for 3 weeks, then, despite getting the flu shot, I came down with it 3 weeks ago. Unfortunately, it was the week before hubby’s knee replacement surgery, so we have been struggling along. We never go out for V day, but I always try to make a nice dinner. When the kids were still home, a homemade dessert would grace the table too, but we usually forego those now. My fav Valentine’s Day memory involves my parents, who, are still with us at 91 and 95. A big fuss over the day was not made at home, but Dad would always show up that night with a Whitman’s Sampler box of chocolates for Mom. Not gourmet chocolate, but to them, two Depression era kids raised on hard-scrabble farms, I imagine it was considered a luxury. We kids were allowed to pick out a piece or two, but that was the one time of the year for Mom to indulge. As I write this, I wonder if he was able to get her one this year, as they have both been in ill health. They only live an hour away, but caring for hubby and trying to help keep our business running has me underwater most days lately. I need to go see Mom and Dad, and maybe I’ll just stop at the local shop and take a box of Whitman’s. Thanks for opening up these memories with your Valentine day musings.

    1. I love that story, Judy. Reminds me of my step-father who used to come home with the Ganongs (a local New Brunswick chocolate and candy company) 5-lb box of chocolates for Mum. As you can imagine, the 5-lb box was huge. The “value” box. So not especially pretty in design. Then he proceeded to eat most of them anyway. 🙂

  6. Valentine’s Day, like Mothers Day and Fathers Day, are mostly inventions of the business world to sell more stuff. We can and should tell our partner/ parent how we feel at any time of the year.

    1. I hear you. But St Valentine’s Day does have a more well established origin than Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Still Hallmark makes a killing on all three days. Remember making our own cards for our mums back in the day? Now that was a good tradition.

  7. Hey, Sue. I’m sorry that the bug has hit you so hard this year. The “I’m so sick of being sick” stage is miserable. I’m with you on the Valentine’s Humbug, but at my house, we’re even more opposed than you to the Hallmark Holiday. You might remember me saying that we ignore February 14 because we love each other EVERY day.

  8. Thanks for the lacy lingerie story – what a hoot! Valentine’s Day wasn’t a big deal in Australia when I was growing up, though it has increased in popularity over the years. Unsurprisingly, it all feels over-commercialised and artificial to me and my husband of 30 years so we don’t go in for many of the traditional celebrations. We do however indulge our love of chocolate by sharing a small box of dark chocolates with lavish fillings. These days the chocolates are shared with our daughter ❤️ I do like the way the celebration here has expanded to include relationships with family and friends. Best wishes for your dinner out when you’re feeling better.

  9. Hubby and I just ignore Valentine’s Day for the two of us. We call it a “Hallmark Holiday” and leave it at that. We used to go out for dinner way back when, give cards to each other and chocolates but then we realized we love each other and that’s that – no need to have it commercialized. However, we do recognize the day with our 20 year old daughter. The day is an opportunity to connect with her in her busy life.

    I do love your blog and although I do not comment often I never miss a post. I lived in Ottawa from 1983 to 1988 and I am the same age as you. I often wonder if our paths crossed in some way (even on the street) way back when ….

    1. Thanks, Liz. And I’ll bet we did pass each other once or twice back in the day. I lived in the Glebe from 1984-86, so I was downtown much more often than I am now.

  10. Before I was married, I came home one Feb. 14 to find a notice that a flower delivery had been attempted. I snapped up the card and high-tailed it to the florist, where a line of men wound down the block. As I waited my turn, I pondered who was the admirer who had sent me flowers? When I got my bouquet and read the card, I was extremely disappointed to discover it was my brother. No admirer after all. And I felt bad about feeling bad, because he had wanted to do something nice for me.
    Feb. 14 is the worst moment to get flowers, because to meet demand, they stockpile them for weeks, so they wilt faster. And the worst moment to go out to eat, with rip-off special menus. I just put my head under the covers and wait for it to be over.

  11. Hi Sue
    Funny post…not the part with Stu catching your cold.
    But you had me laughing.
    We went out for lunch on V day to the Aberfoyle Mill and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. (we are not night owls) No cards, so I guess .. bah humbug.
    I bought beautiful flowers (from Costco) and told my hubby they were for him…he knows better…they were really for me…lol

    1. Ha! For some reason I was able to post this morn. Go figure. Ignore my comment on IG.
      Have a great day!!

  12. Your post triggered many Valentine’s Day memories, including a bus ride and long walk to surprise my then boyfriend/now husband on our first V-Day today, when he was still a student and had an evening class. . . 1974. . . so very long ago.
    Also remembering the Valentine’s boxes that were the tradition at my elementary school — and my mom trying to find enough appropriate empty chocolate boxes or shoe boxes or whatever for my siblings and me to decorate — first a layer of wrapping paper or brown paper or whatever was at hand, and then paper doilies and hearts cut from red and pink construction paper. . . The slit cut in the top for the Valentine’s cards to be slipped or stuffed in. . . .
    Like you, we’re pretty low-key about the day now, but usually have a special meal (he cooks it!) — this year, though, we went out to a very cute little place in the neighbourhood, very homey-hipster — and pretty sure Paul and I have had more Valentine’s Days together than anyone else in that room had had birthdays. 😉
    A fun post — thanks for the chuckle, and I hope you feel better and better again (although not wishing you to hurry up and feel better just in time to nurse Stu. That is NOT my favourite scenario in married life. . . .

    1. I always loved decorating our Valentines mailbags. But then again I always loved welding scissors and colourful paper. Your dinner sounds lovely, Frances. There are no homey-hipster restaurants near us. I guess we’re too far out of the city for that. I’m imagining the reaction if you had told some of of the other diners how many Valentine’s Days you guys have had. 🙂

  13. Always such a delightful, enjoyable read. I’m so glad you have recovered from your illness and hopefully your husband will be well soon. Thank you for your warmth and humor . I always look forward to reading your blog.

  14. That story of yours was funny. I don’t recall anything funny ever happening on Valentine’s day. It’s a bit of a non-event at our house. I think of it as a celebration for teenagers. We’re not wildly romantic either.

  15. Thank you, Suzan! I LOVE married love stories. Young married love, middle-aged married love, old married love! All of it. 🙂

    So sweet. 🙂

    Ann in Missouri

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