4 Things That Are More Romantic Than Roses

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This might come as a bit of a surprise, as it’s well documented that I love holidays, but I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Valentine’s Day.

I approach all holidays, not just the normal ones, with an abundance of cheer and celebration. I go all out for birthdays, Halloween and Chrismukkah, sure, but I also celebrate the often overlooked holidays with the same level of exuberance. From reciting Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech on Civil Rights Day to reading (at least some part) of Ulysses on Bloomsday, I greet each holiday with as much gusto as I can muster. Life is one big celebration, and holidays remind us how important it is to do just that.

So why am I such a Valentine’s Day hater? Because it all seems so forced.

Related: 3 Ways To Make Your Valentine’s Date Actually Romantic
Yes, it’s wonderful to do something sweet for your significant other, but why must we save these sweeping declarations of affection for one day of the year?

In the early stages of my current relationship, I was bemoaning the fact that my travel schedule caused me to miss apple picking season. After listening to my whine, my current boyfriend showed up at my door with handful of freshly-picked apples (earning him the nickname “Bon Iver” amongst some friends). This small gesture (and there’ve been many more since then) carries much more meaning for me than roses or chocolates or some other cheesy Valentine’s Day cliché ever could.

Related: 5 Ways Valentine’s Day Can Destroy Your Relationship
I’m not the only one. When asked about romance, my friend Meredith doesn’t think of fancy reservations or expensive roses. Instead she thinks of when her boyfriend made her a flock origami raptors (ORAGAMI RAPTORS) or how he adds an extra blanket to the bed when he gets up for work so she doesn’t get cold. Yes, they’ll probably do something to mark February 14, but it’ll likely involve more origami raptors, and not an over-priced dinner at Momofuku (this is not, in anyway, to say that I would turn down dinner at Momofuku. Anyone who wants to take me to Momofuku is more than welcome to take me to Momofuku).

My friend Selena and her fiancé don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, and if you ask her what they did last February, she won’t be able to tell you. But what she can recall is a bad day a few weeks ago when she was super stressed and she called her fiancé to vent. When she returned to her desk she found he’d faxed her a drawing of flowers, noting the fax sentiment would arrive much sooner than the real thing ever could (NOTE: she is one of many friends who noted that hand-drawn sentiments and MS paints are the keys to a lady’s affections).

Related: What Your Rose Color Says About Your Love
Perhaps it is nice to acknowledge the person who gives you butterflies on Valentine’s Day. But people get so caught up in what they feel they should be doing or what they think they’re expected to do that they lose sight of what’s really important: the relationship they’re in.

I don’t know what I’m going to do on February 14, but I do know that I’d rather have a year filled with apples, extra blankets, origami raptors or hand-drawn flowers and other little sentiments than a night of pre-packaged romance.

Joy Engel lives and works in Portland, Maine where she tweets far too much and solves the occasional murder-mystery while riding around on a bicycle. Everything she writes is her personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of her employer or its clients.