I just love Valentine"s Day. Of course, many argue that it"s a simplistic holiday, another vehicle for the greeting card industry to market to the vulnerable, while making the woefully unattached feel even more unattached. Part of the problem is that there are too many people who approach the holiday with the wrong attitude. Some treat this day, designed for lovers everywhere, as a painful obligation. Whether it"s the long-married man who tosses a cellophane-wrapped box of chocolates onto the counter as an afterthought when he pops into the drugstore or the misguided youth who thinks the ultimate Valentine gift is a case of wine coolers and a Kenny G. cassette, the beauty of this holiday is lost on most.
I have been known to present friends with intricately patterned woodcut prints or collages to celebrate the day.
Then there are the girls who wait all day long for the florist to knock on the door, convinced that if their special someone doesn"t cough up a dozen or so long-stemmed red roses, an overpriced dinner and a freezing cold carriage ride, he probably doesn"t care for her. While it"s true that small children and the simple-minded most enthusiastically embrace this holiday, I count myself among those drawn to all things Valentine. To me, the beauty of Valentine"s Day is not wrapped up in forced romanticism and worn-out cliches, but in the pretty, sparkling things that herald its arrival - heart-shaped pink beacons of hope guiding us through gray winter days. More than consumer-geared items, it"s the endless potential for heart-inspired art projects that draws me in. I have been known to present friends with intricately patterned woodcut prints or collages to celebrate the day. Japanese papers, jars of glitter, organdy ribbon and pots of pink and red paint clutter the dining room table as soon as the month of February rears its icy head. While I might give a girlfriend a box filled with shrinky-dink hearts and antique buttons, or make a batch of liqueur-imbued truffles to distribute to my closest friends, the greatest pleasure is always found in creating a gift for my husband. I may make a hand-bound book embellished with gold leaf hearts, its pages filled with hand-copied lines from love poems by W.H. Auden, Baudelaire or e.e. cummings, or present him with a ribbon-tied packet of sepia-toned photographs of myself, for his viewing pleasure. Whatever I do, I make sure it is beautiful, thoughtful and, above all, personal. Then there are the fashion choices you can make on this rosiest day of the year. Throw on a little something pink, red or even burgundy, then sit back and count the number of coworkers who dole out comments ranging from: "Gee, it"s nice to see you wearing something colorful for a change!" to genuine compliments about red really being YOUR color. Valentine"s Day is one glorious day when millions of otherwise right-minded adults can shed all sense of chic and don sweaters, jewelry, socks, even undies embellished with whimsical hearts and crazed cupids. It"s velvet"s last hurrah, the only chance to wear that fuzzy pink shrug, a reason for rubies or a fuschia silk wrap. Whether you"re attached or single, the secret to enjoying Valentine"s Day lies in reveling in the excess of your good fortune. If you are fortunate enough to have a love, it"s time to celebrate in the most honest and genuine way you can find, void of cliches and preconceived notions. If you find yourself without a partner on this partner-infused holiday, it"s time to round up a handful of equally single friends and celebrate: Indulge in a hot fudge sundae frenzy, share a bottle of good champagne, enjoy one another"s company. Wherein Miss Joni shares some tried-and-true Valentine"s Day ideasï Use scraps of handmade paper, vintage photographs, illustrations and old boxes to create three-dimensional tokens of your affection to give to all your friends. ï Make a batch of liqueur-tinged chocolate truffles, tucked neatly into a hand-painted cigar box lined with red velvet. ï Have a friend take some photos of you using Kodak Ectachrome film. If you tell the developer to color-process this black and white film, you"ll end up with beautiful, somewhat grainy sepia-toned mementos you can present to your love, tied with a satin ribbon. ï Invite your single girlfriends over for a fat-filled hot fudge sundae binge. ï Play matchmaker: Invite all your unattached friends over, asking each to bring a covered dish, a bottle of wine and a single friend. ï Take yourself on a lingerie-shopping spree. Every girl deserves a pretty thing.