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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine's Day On A Shoestring Budget

Hey, guys! I thought that I would start this blog entry off by posting the temporary new logo for “The Pop Culture Addict's Guide To Life”. It'll run from now until Friday, February 15. I thought that I'd try to make the blog a bit more holiday friendly, so I've been at work making themed logos for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter, thus far. As we go ahead with the year, I'll be creating more logos for use. I hope you enjoy it.

The fact that I even decided to do a Valentine's Day logo for this blog in the first place surprises even me, as I've made no secret about disliking everything that the day stands for. So, in this edition of the Thursday Diary, I work out why that is. Trust me, it's not what you might think.

Oh, and the reason why I'm doing a Valentine's Day entry two weeks before the day actually happens? Well, I have a theme month planned out for February. You'll find out more about that tomorrow.

January 31, 2013

Is it just me, or did January just seem to drag on?

I think part of the reason why January seems to have lasted twice as long as other months I can remember is the fact that the weather has been crazier than ever before (I think that this January in particular seems as though we experienced all four seasons at once). And the fact that almost every single person that I know had to cope with cold symptoms or were sidelined by that really nasty flu virus that is going around certainly didn't make this month pass by any quicker.

But tomorrow we're entering the month of February...the shortest month of the entire year (even on leap years). And, this year, I say bring it on.

February's been a month that in recent years has had a lot of meaning for me. After all, I did get my gall bladder removed in the month of February two years ago. And because my surgery took place two days before Valentine's Day, I did end up getting something red for the holiday.

Mind you it was in the form of a blood transfusion, but hey, I'd rather have something that can save my life instead of roses, chocolates, and gold jewelry.

At least on that particular year, I ended up not hating Valentine's Day with nearly the passion that I had prior to that event. Though, in my defense, I was too sore and too weak to really care about what the day was on the calendar when the day did roll around.

And, you know, I'll be honest with the last couple of years, I've been more embracing of the day than I have been. I still don't like it as well as Christmas, Halloween, or even the civic holiday in August that was only created because every other month had a holiday...but I'm more accepting of it.

Hence the reason why I came up with a Valentine's Day logo for this blog for the first part of the month.

Prior to 2011, I hated Valentine's Day with the fire of a thousand suns. To me, staring at all of those red and pink teddy bears, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, and lavish bouquets of red roses made me want to take a flamethrower to them.

And, you know, to be honest with you, there was a time in which I believed that the reason behind my dislike for Valentine's Day was because of my single status. I mean, I'm not going to lie to you, sometimes being single on Valentine's Day isn't the easiest thing to deal with. But, at the end of the day, you get through it...even if you find yourself surrounded by the red and pink foil wrappers of the entire bag of Valentine's Hershey Miniatures that you ate while watching an anti-Valentine's Day movie like “Fatal Attraction”.

(And, don't judge. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who has done this, and I highly doubt that I'll be the last.)

But the reason why I didn't like Valentine's Day wasn't so much of the fact that I was single on Valentine's Day. It's because of the fact that many people don't seem to understand what the whole purpose of Valentine's Day is.

I did a little bit of research on the day, and here's what I found. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of a Christian saint named Valentinus. The story of Valentinus is that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. It's said that during his incarceration, he had healed the daughter of the very person who jailed him, Asterius. The legend states that before he was executed, he wrote a letter of farewell to her, signing the letter “From Your Valentine”.

Okay, so that legend was kind of morbid...but it also makes a lot of sense when you compare that legend to how Valentine's Day is traditionally celebrated. After all, who doesn't remember being a kid in class stuffing those Valentine's cards into your classmates' Valentine's Day boxes with messages saying things like “You send me over the moon, Valentine”, or “Let's Be Best Friends, Valentine”?

It really wasn't until the mid fifteenth century that Valentine's Day became associated with romantic love, and evolved into a day in which lovers expressed their feelings for each other by sending them confections, flowers, and handmade cards.

Now, can I tell you the honest truth? I honestly don't even think that you need the flowers and the chocolates to be able to have a happy Valentine's Day.

And, you'll notice that I never mentioned jewelry at all during either one of those legends. I tell you, I don't care if he went to Jared, or if every kiss begins with Kay, or if you're being told by Charm Diamond Centres to buy a sterling silver charm bracelet so that you can charm your lover off of her feet. The materialistic stance that jewelry stores take around the fourteenth of February is less than charming in my personal opinion.

I guess I just don't understand what makes Valentine's Day so special that it is the one and ONLY day that we have to show somebody that we love how much we care about them. We have three hundred and sixty-five days this year to show a spouse, lover, or life partner just how much they mean to us and how much we care for them.

So, you want to know what I think? I think that we should laugh in the face of the hearts, flowers, and likenesses of Cupid. Seriously, Cupid is nothing more than a dude in tighty-whities shooting arrows at random people. If anyone tried that in the real world, I'm pretty sure that they would end up institutionalized. Let people know that you're not going to become a slave to the materialistic madness that includes dinner reservations at overpriced restaurants, using charge cards to buy an entire truckload of roses, and making twenty easy payments of fifty dollars to afford the fancy earrings you bought just because the calendar says it's the fourteenth of February.

However, if you insist on celebrating the day the way that the people in the 1400s did, might I recommend a few ideas that are a little more cost-efficient, but still allows you to show your significant other just how much you care. I know that if I had someone special in my life to spend Valentine's Day with this year, I most certainly would be trying some of these ideas out myself. But, again, these are just suggestions that I've come up with. I encourage all of you to be creative and come up with your own inexpensive ways.


I know it sounds very simple and common, but if the weather permits (and given how unpredictable February can be, that can be a bit dicey), it's probably one of the most intimate activities that two people can share...well, in public, that is. In all seriousness, sometimes taking a trip down memory lane in some of the places that mean a lot to both of you can be more sentimental and thoughtful than spending a lot of dough on disposable stuff. A heart shaped box of chocolates may last a day...but the place where you shared your first kiss, or went on your first date? Priceless.


I'm a huge believer in giving to others in need. I think that the feeling that one gets when they donate their time or their money to a worthy cause is like no other. That's why I recommend that on Valentine's Day, you and your loved one do something that benefits someone else. Years ago, I remember one episode of Beverly Hills 90210 in which Brenda and Dylan spent Valentine's Day donating blood. Back then, I thought it was a bit strange...but now I think it's a rather ingenious idea. As someone who ironically ended up getting a blood transfusion on Valentine's Day, I appreciated the fact that someone took the time to donate their blood so I could have another shot at life. Wouldn't it be the coolest thing to donate blood with the person you love? And, besides, you get food and drink after donating! What could be better?

Of course, if donating your blood doesn't sound like the best idea, there's other ways you can donate your time. Volunteer your time together to a charity, or take the money that you were going to spend on Valentine's Day celebrations and donate it to a worthy cause, and stay in for a quiet night in. Trust me, Valentine's Day may be a day to show each other that you care, but there's nothing stating that you can't share that love with other people.


This is probably one of the best ways to beat the materialism that seems to be forced down people's throats during the Valentine's Day season. I'm probably a guy who would appreciate the idea of someone going to a lot of trouble to make something special that they would know that I'd enjoy. And, I absolutely love being able to use my creative skills to come up with gifts that are personal, yet inexpensive. And, there's no shortage of ideas. You can make them a homemade Valentine's Day card. If there's a photo of the two of you that you both love, design and make the perfect picture frame to go around it. One idea I heard of from an acquaintance was that they grabbed a photo out of a wedding album, blew it up, had it made into a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, and spent the whole night putting it together. I'm not sure if anyone would have the time to put together a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle these days, but I must admit I love the idea. Even a simple activity like baking chocolate chip cookies together is an awesome idea...and you can eat your creations later on in the evening.

Just let your creative side flow. Remember, any gift that comes from the heart will be well appreciated.

Those are just a few ideas to consider. If you have any more ways you can take the cha-ching out of Valentine's Day, feel free to share!

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