Hey Elderly Aunt, can I be a Valentine’s Day scrooge?

My partner wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, but I’ve never been a fan of the holiday—am I obligated to celebrate it?

elderly_auntRTlogoIn the Elderly Aunt’s opinion, holiday celebrations in this country have pretty much been going to pot since the early 1950s. This was when America was first “wired for television,”* and gullible Americans began falling for the lunatic notion TV advertising markets so relentlessly: True American happiness only comes from spending buckets of money you may or may not have on stuff you may or may not need.

In the case of Valentine’s Day, our various screens — with all their advertising — now tell us the only way to demonstrate true love for our Significant Others (S.O.) is to spend bigly on them every February 14. Not doing so, according to our screens, condemns our partners to spending considerable amounts of time in the Slough of Despond wondering what they did to alienate us.

The standard screen suggestions for spending bigly on our Valentines are: 1) present your S.O.  with flowers that wilt and shed petals all over the coffee table; 2) give them chocolates to feed their fears of getting fat; 3) surprise them with tawdry jewelry or useless power tools; or 4) take them out to the expensive restaurant of their choosing and instruct them to not so much as glance at the right side of the menu. Our helpful screens also remind us that since 1958—thanks to American Express’s introduction of  balance carrying credit cards— we may overspend on Valentine’s Day demonstrations of true love and pay off their cost over time at a modest interest rate of only 15% interest.

With this in mind, dear reader, the Elderly Aunt now returns to your question by asking a question of her own: Does your lack of enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day stem from feeling pressured by screens to spend lots of money on your partner every February 14? If so, then the Elderly Aunt is delighted to join you in voicing a spirited phooey on that! It is her opinion that you are one un-gullible dudette/dude, and she is honored to have you as a reader.


If your objection to Valentine’s Day instead stems from not wanting to celebrate society’s centuries-old designated Day of Mush with your partner, then the Elderly Aunt has a second question for you: What on earth is your problem? Why are you not rejoicing that you have someone to feel mushy about who feels mushy about you in return?

It may surprise you to learn that the Elderly Aunt is a huge fan of mush. And, as she iselderly, she’s had vast experience with celebrating Valentine’s Day.** None of the Elderly Aunt’s past  Mush Day celebrations, however, hold a candle to the celebrations she annually enjoys with her Designated Main Squeeze (D.M.S.) of many years.

At the core of these celebrations is a day-long, hyper-awareness of how lucky she and her D.M. S. are to have bumped into each other and how smart they’ve been to not screw things up by putting unrealistic expectations on either themselves or each other. As to what she and her D.M.S. actually do together to celebrate Valentine’s Day? All the Elderly Aunt has to say is that their celebrations are cheap. Beyond that, she chooses to keep their Mush Day celebratory practices close to her ample chest, as doing so seems to contribute to their mushiness.

Of course, dear reader, there could be a third reason for your lack of enthusiasm about celebrating Valentine’s Day with your partner: You are simply averse to the mush-on-demand nature of the day. If that is the case, then allow the Elderly Aunt to ask you a third question: Are you willing to make a fuss over your partner’s birthday? If so then consider which is more worthy of one-day mandated fuss: Your partner turning a year older, or you and your partner’s deep and abiding affection for each other?

In conclusion, the Elderly Aunt does notadvocate overspending on Valentine’s Day. If however,  you are happily partnered and your lack of enthusiasm for the holiday stems from either an aversion to mush in general or mush-on-demand in particular, then the Elderly Aunt advises you—and, indeed, all her dear readers—to suck it up, count your blessings, and prepare to get down and mushyon February 14!

* David Halberstam, from the preface of his excellent book “The Fifties.”

** In the interest of full disclosure, the Elderly Aunt wishes to inform her readers that she’s had a variety of Valentine’s Day companions while merrily hoofing her way around the block.

The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on the second and fourth Monday of each month. To get the Elderly Aunt’s advice on an issue that’s been intriguing or bugging you, email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions). 


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