February is a difficult time of the year for some folks, just like December is a real problem for others.
The Problem of February
If you’re single, every well-meaning friend and relative you’ve ever met tries to hook you up with every unmarried human they know. Never mind that you might be perfectly happy in your unmarried-ness.
Just as bad, if you mention a name the well-meaning friend or relative doesn’t know, their eyes light up like LED flashlights because they’re sure you’ve found That Special Someone. Then you get grilled about the likelihood of a meaningful relationship with that person.
Meanwhile, all your married or attached pals are gushing about their plans for Valentine’s Day or going on about the special thing they’re going to get for their Significant Other or what they hope to get from their Significant Other.
Related, this can also be a rough time for widows and widowers. If they used to do nifty stuff on Valentine’s Day, they might find the holiday particularly difficult with sad or bittersweet memories.
Even shopping becomes dangerous. Everything in the universe suddenly has cute pink or red cartoon hearts all over it. No matter what you’re looking for, expect to find only versions with sappy little hearts on it. So much sappiness is bound to leave you teetering on the edge of a sugar coma.
If you’re married or dating or engaged or in some way not exactly single, you have a different array of problems.
Sadly, not all relationships are the happiness and joy they’re supposed to be. That makes this time of year difficult because the romantic ideal is thrown in your face as a constant reminder that what you have is nothing like the happy smoochiness you’re told you should have.
Then, what do you do for the Special Day? Christmas wasn’t that long ago, and coming up with The Perfect Gift was hard enough then. Now you get to do it all over again. Whoever designed the calendar should have spaced these gift-giving adventures out a bit better. This gets even more complicated if you’re on a budget or if your budget hasn’t recovered from Christmas, either.
If you don’t care about football, the first half of the month is just a confusing mess. Everyone’s going nuts about The Game — you know which one: Stupor Bowl! The same people who make fun of sci-fi/fantasy fandoms for dressing up and having themed parties about their favorite movies and books will put on colored face paint, weird wigs, and huge foam hands so they can eat chips and salsa and holler at the TV when some guy carries a lopsided ball over a line.
The lead-up to The Game is huge. What little you can find in the store that doesn’t have a heart on it will have football team logos. Then Game Day happens and the rest of the world shuts down so people can watch the game and see which star is getting into what kind of shenanigans for the half-time show.
The end of the game does not signal the end of the mess. There’s at least a week of post-game exhilaration and armchair quarterbacking and “Hey did you see the commercial about …” No, I didn’t, and I don’t consider that to be a huge loss, actually.
Health Conscious Folks
If you’re watching your diet for health or personal reasons, Valentine’s Day is a hazard second only to Halloween and Christmas. Candy. Cookies. Cake. EVERYWHERE. You can’t get away from the stuff.
How to Survive February
Whenever you mention the name of someone your relatives and friends don’t know, make sure you add a disclaimer. “Yeah Bob — he’s married — said that movie was fabulous!” or “I saw Steve — he’s gay — at the grocery store last night.” This might head off the LED eyeball look and the interrogation about the likelihood of a relationship forming.
Pick a movie or a book with a character you like and tell people you’re spending Valentine’s Day with that character. Don’t mention that it’s a character. Just call the person by name. Later on, when the February is finally over, your pals will still want to meet this person. You can either invite them over for a binge-viewing of the show or answer with “It just didn’t work out.”
Be mindful of the widows and widowers you know. If they’re the sort who like company, invite them along for whatever adventures you’re getting into. If they’re the sort who prefer solitude, don’t get pushy. Respect their need for space. Everyone handles emotional messes in ways that might make no sense to anyone else.
Don’t make it complicated. Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Yes, big, impressive gifts have a lot of Wow Factor, but simpler things mean just as much, maybe more. Don’t look at me for ideas, though. You know your spouse better than I do.
What a great time to go shopping! The stores will be empty because everyone will be watching The Big Game. Be careful, though. What few people you run into will either be other non-sports fans or sports fans who are MISSING THE GAME. These latter are more dangerous because they have one thing on the brain right then, and it’s not their good manners and patience.
As for the pre- and post-game wrap-up, this will test your patience, but just think of it as another fandom. That may help you put up with their weird behaviors.
Wow, yeah, willpower don’t fail me now!
Actually, for me, it’s not an issue. Sugar and chocolate cause such a bad reaction for me that they even smell bad now, but I understand the allure for others who are not dietarily challenged. Walk fast and stay away from the candy aisles, which easier said than done in this time of putting “holiday” displays every ten feet in the store.
Most importantly, remember that making someone else responsible for your joy is a treacherous road. Married, single, widow(er), sports fan, dieter … be careful with your heart. It bruises easily, and leaving it in the care of another is risky. Sometimes you find a good person to entrust your heart with, but in my experience there are a lot of gooberheads out there.
There is one person I trust with my heart without reservation: God. He hasn’t let me down yet, and I don’t think he plans to any time soon.