Well, Amy Poehler, a.k.a. Leslie Knopp on Parks and Recreation, has done it again. She outsmarted me. She beat me to the punch. She proved once again that Leslie Knopp is very likely based on the junior high me.
I sat down this morning optimistically wearing pink and red --inspired to write about reclaiming Valentines Day. To explain how, despite many years of heartache and listening to the unrequited love songs of Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, I maintain affection for the fourteenth of February. To admit to the world:
Valentine's Day is still my favorite holiday.
In grade school Valentine's Day meant carefully decorating shoeboxes to hold mini bags of M&M's, Red Hots and Jelly Belly's, boxes of Sweethearts, and silver wrapped Kisses. Deciding under the florescent lighting of the grocery store (usually the night before) which theme of paper cards to hand out almost always resulted in a meltdown. "What if someone brings the same kind as me? ...that would be so not cool. Am I too old for Little Mermaid this year?" Etc. Thanks to their many years of experience (and probable personal encounters of suffering) our teachers had only one rule for Valentine's: you have to give a Valentine to everyone. So, for the first decade of my young life, Valentine's Day was about sweets, sharing, and friends. It was just a special day where things got a little more girly and lunchtime got a lot more sugary.
Then puberty hit and the world worked very hard to convince me that Valentine's Day without a sweetheart meant you must be miserable. That really, you're nobody, 'til somebody loves you. Even more it said, "Valentine's Day is dumb." (In hindsight I appreciate this disdain for romance. I think it's healthy for this age group. But, I digress..) It only took two years of this wallowing before I decided to attach my own meaning to the holiday. From then on I've used Valentine's Day to celebrate the ones I love, my friends. Being completely obsessed with Martha Stewart as an adolescent, I would stay up all night piping royal icing onto sugar cookies and drizzling chocolate onto paper thin florentines for my girlfriends. I'd get out my great aunt's vintage pumps and throw dinner parties with a dress code. My friends started calling me 'The Valentine Queen'.
I thought these traditions were unique to me. The self-protective theatrics of a goody-goody girl determined not to feel bad about herself and her lack of suitors. But now I realize I had it all wrong. I haven't been celebrating Valentine's Day, I've unknowingly been celebrating Galantine's Day. (The writing staff of Parks and Recreation must have read the same NPR article as me on The Dark Origins Of Valentine's Day where we learn that 'Galantin' means "lover of women".)
Whether you're celebrating Galentine's Day, or Valentine's Day, this Valentine Queen demands you serve up some of our Burnin' Love Pink Pearl Apple jam. Spicy and sweet, it is the grown up equivalent of a bag of Red Hots. Made with Fireball Whiskey and gorgeous local Pink Pearl Apples, it is Valentine's Day in a jar. I literally squealed when I tasted it. My plan this year, grab some ricotta and some lady friends and feast on some crepes 'a la Burnin' Love. ('Cause let's face it, angst has been out since the 90's.)
I haven't forgotten about all the lovers out there, looking for a more traditional spin on the holiday. For you, I suggest our Bittersweet Chocolate Conference Pear. Skip the dinner reservation and gift your sweetie a cheese board at home with some champange. It's positively naughty when done as Brie en Croute (puff pastry wrapped and jam stuffed, sprinkled with sea salt). Seduction, Girl Meets Dirt Style! This can get messy so an apron is recommended, what you choose to wear (or not wear) underneath is up to you. Girl meets dirty?
How do you feel about the holiday and what are your Valentine's Day plans? We'd just looooove to hear from you in the comments below.