Sunday, February 7, 2010

Julia's Guide to Valentines Day

Poppies from Saipua

I echo Jaimie's frustration at the commercialisation of Valentines Day (an I-phone? Seriously?). Traditionally, I have stubbornly refused to celebrate or even acknowledge this sickly-sweet institution. It irks me that so much pressure, smugness, commercialism and kitsch has been associated with love, which in my idealistic view should be something pure, organic and entirely personal.

I am always reminded of high-school days, when the Valentines of the 'popular' girls would drop off hideous bouquets of red roses at the school office and the receptions would announce : 'would Blondy McPeroxide please report to the school office? Would Blondy McPeroxide please report to the school office?' across the entire school's PA system. Blondy McPeroxide would then spend the rest of her day lugging this ridiculous gesture to every class, even if it was encased in a gigantic, heavy marble vase, obscured the view of every girl in the room and left a trail of slimy, stinky water behind her. It was, quite simply, absurd.

Anyway, despite this, in my old and sentimental age I've come to value any day of the year which encourages participation in something just a little bit spesh. Taking take a moment out of our frantic lives to spoil someone we care about and let them know how they enrich our lives isn't a gesture that should be sneezed at. It is, however, a gesture that should be given more than once a year, and not purely because everyone else is doing it. And I certainly don't think Valentines day should just be a day for romantic love. It should be taken as an opportunity to celebrate all of the love in all of our lives; love for our friends, our family, our dogs, ourselves. But perhaps we should do it on the 14th day of every month?

With that in mind, I deliver you my guide to Valentines day(s):

Why don't you...

Take it as an opportunity to love yourself? Give yourself a facial, take a long bath surrounded by millions of scented candles, scrub yourself raw with a yummy exfoliator, change into your favourite pajamas and watch a romantic comedy or horror film (whatever takes your fancy) whilst sipping green tea from your most fragile cup and eating raspberries?

Go camping with your lover/best friend/sister/housemate? Cook some kind of delicious, rustic stew over a fire, make tea in a billy and serve it with scones, play a game of scrabble by torch light and go for a long, beautiful walk in the morning? Pick your companion a bunch of beautiful wildflowers? Enjoy the serenity and fresh air?

Make sweet little presents for all your friends? Cookies wrapped in beautiful fabric and tied up with string? A sweet little drawing with a note about how much you love them? A little book with some of your favourite recipes handwritten and photocopied? A jar of homemade body scrub? An old-fashioned mixtape with a hand-drawn cover?

Take a day trip to a near-deserted beach? Drink champagne on the edge of a dramatic cliff while watching the waves hit the shore? Read poetry out loud to one another with the sounds of the ocean as a backing score?

Buy someone you love a handmade gift off etsy or from a local market? Support artists and craftsmen with integrity and talent? Boycott soulless commercialism?

Cook someone you love an impressive three course dinner? Something completely out of the ordinary? Roll sushi, bone a duck, make handmade ravioli? Prepare a rich chocolate mousse for desert?

Ban electricity for an entire day? Instead of watching TV and surfing the Internet play boardgames and have long philosophical conversations? Prepare a raw salad for dinner and eat it by candlelight with hand-squeezed orange juice? Go to bed early with a candle and some knitting?

Write a list of everything and everyone you're grateful for in your best attempt at calligraphy? Stick it above your bed and read it every night and feel lucky and blessed as you fall asleep?

Do something lovely for a complete stranger? Donate to charity, visit a nursing home, plant a tree in the nearest park, pick up rubbish, sign up for a volunteer conservation group?

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