BrightSide and I are well-suited when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

I feel a little bad for guys who find themselves involved with women who adore this holiday. Someone who may have spent most of his life taking a meh approach to this particular day could find the world of What do you mean, you didn’t think to send me flowers/bring me chocolates/get me something?  Don’t you love me?! quite a rude awakening.  I mean, dang, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a single calendar date.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate as much as the next girl, but relative to the importance of this particular day?  Let’s just say I’ve never found myself questioning the strength of a relationship based on gifts received on February 14th.  Frankly, I’ve always been a bit perplexed at the volume of flowers, chocolates, and jewelry floating around at this time of year.  (And yes, I know there’s a unicorn category out there for this kind of attitude.  What-evs.)

When BrightSide and I got together he had very strong opinions on the topic of Valentine’s Day. It was a scam.  A marketing device by corporate America designed to force people to buy greeting cards and candy.  That real love doesn’t need a day of celebration; it needs to practiced all year round.  (I know this sounds conveniently anti-gift giving but I can assure you, he was quite passionate in this particular belief based on the merits alone.)

I was fine rolling with this since I didn’t have a strong attachment to the holiday though I have to admit, being a wordy like I am, I often write love notes in February.  Probably because the atmosphere is so saturated with the feeling.  (T-man was kind enough to pass Bear’s along to her yesterday morning, followed by “But it doesn’t have any money in it.”  Ahhh…kids.)

After years of relatively silent protest BrightSide eventually acquiesced to one annual recognition of Valentine’s Day: chocolates.  I honestly can’t remember if he was this good about bringing them home every year before the kids came along.  (Though I’m certain, if he did, that I had the advantage of consuming my own candy then.  Let’s just say that w-o-r-d-s were spoken last year when my vulturous children picked away at my chocolates once they’d finished their own.)

When the holiday gets close BrightSide will stop on the way home from work to pick up a few of those heart-shaped boxes.  Out of respect for our relative stress levels he does bring me the über huge box but, as previously mentioned, that in no way guarantees I’ll actually get those chocolates.  (Saturday I decided to take the bull by the horns and simply eat my two favorites on the first day I opened the box.  Now, no matter what chocolates the munchkins devour, at least I won’t mourn the loss of a coconut cream to one of them.  We’re talking STRATEGY, folks.)

All this to say that chocolates is pretty much it around here, and I’m good with that.  I have a suspicion that Bear’s gonna be a bit more high maintenance when it comes to Valentine’s Day, but I’m hoping to temper that a bit.  Sadly, one of the kids in T-man’s grade made every other boy’s life living hell on Friday by marching into his girlfriend’s classroom with an enormous stuffed animal and a rose.  Points for bravery, young man, but you really threw your Y-chromosome classmates under the bus there.

Social media does its part to bring everything to a head this month.  Since quirky people attract (meaning my friends, not the couples themselves), I know a few folks who add their own unique twist to Valentine’s Day.  My particular favorite this year was a certificate promising one new chick for the flock with the notation that “chicken math may be applied.”  I have no idea what chicken math is, but for some reason this has tickled me to no end.

So Valentine’s Day has the potential to be fun, if you don’t let it turn into a competition or some kind of report card for your relationship.

But here’s the thing.  The social media pretty-pretty-picture phenomena that simply irks me on a typical day…well, around Valentine’s Day it actually makes me kind of sad.

Relationships are hard, y’all.  They take work, day in and day out, and even with all that they still have their ups and downs.  And I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate the special moments that make you sit up and think right, this is totally worth fighting for.

But I know what I know, and sometimes I can’t quite get past the discordance between reality and my Facebook newsfeed.  I want to celebrate love, I really do…but if there’s yelling or name calling or aggressiveness in your home, the pretty-pretty-public-picture makes my heart hurt.

BrightSide is right – love is practiced all year round, and a beautiful flower arrangement or special surprise doesn’t make it hurt any less when your loved one calls you stupid.  Please, no more pretty pictures.

Let’s make pretty lives instead.

All my love,