Sometimes the best thing about Valentine's Day is not having to celebrate it at all!
MARY: I'm in my 50s, twice divorced. I had accepted the fact that I'd likely spend the rest of my life single and that I'd never experience the kind of love and intimacy I'd seen among couples who are right for each other. I was wrong. I'm now in a wonderful relationship unlike any I've ever experienced.
My significant other, a widower, says he's no good at giving gifts. His late wife was content to tell him what she wanted for special occasions and that worked well for them. He's been anxious lately over how to recognize Valentine's Day.
I gave him his gift last weekend. I told him he's officially off the hook for this and every Valentine's Day for the rest of our lives. He was visibly relieved. He treats every day as if it's Valentine's Day. That's a better gift than can be found at a candy shop, florist or jeweler.
He asked me which occasions I want him to recognize. I told him there are just three — my birthday, Christmas, and eventually our wedding anniversary.
MICHAEL: Boy, did I luck out on this one. I've been happily married for 25 years to a wonderful Mexican woman. We now live in central Mexico. When she was growing up, there was no such thing as Valentine's Day celebrated in Mexico. (However, that may be changing. The American influence is trying to create "El Dia de Amistad," but so far, it doesn't carry the same weight). She considers Valentine's Day one of those stupid, inexplicable American things.
CHERI: Why do grown men think grown women want stuffed animals? I have never understood that. I like flowers; I love candy; I wouldn't mind a plant; and, of course, jewelry is always fabulous. But a stuffed animal? Don't bother.
And while we're on the subject, please, no cards with a guy bear and a gal bear doing fun stuff like making cookies, shopping or riding in a convertible. If you're going to go to the trouble of buying me a card, get something that will either make me laugh or make me sigh.
LOUANNE: Yes, Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday, but why are people so bitter about it? I've never expected a man to empty his wallet, nor have I ever complained that whatever a guy planned wasn't romantic enough. Now that I'm married, I tell my husband what I want, which is just a little something to show he remembered.
LUCKY: Even if you don't have the money to splurge, if you're with the right man or woman, your partner will understand. He or she will be glad just to be in the same space with you. I know Valentine's Day is a made-up, pretend holiday designed to get people to spend money, but it's also a chance for a guy to show his woman how much he loves her and a great time for a woman to reciprocate. All in all, it's a real win-win.
How are you going to spend Valentine's Day? What are some of your more memorable ones? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com. And check out my new website askcheryl.net.