Well. At least it’s over, yeah? We can all collectively move on from the angst, the suspense, the worry.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Oh. Oh no, I didn’t mean the impeachment trial. That, I suspect, we will live with for a while yet. I meant Valentine’s Day, the most dreaded of holidays on the annual calendar.

OK, OK, maybe not everyone feels this way. I am not a fan.

If you are single, this holiday seems purposefully and maliciously designed to make you feel like you’re a failure. You’re not.

Many people make a conscious choice to be single, for as many different reasons as the people who make them. Sometimes this choice is for a lifetime, sometimes it is just for a while. Mind you, being single is not always a choice and not always what is wanted, but it is never a failure. It is an opportunity to be with, and learn about, oneself.

Here’s the cruel irony: This holiday is no kinder to those in a relationship.

If the relationship is new, you might be able to skate by on the strength of that very newness. A new relationship is awash in promise, but at the same time, it is fraught with uncertainty. Where is it going? What stage are you at? What will your behavior on this day communicate?

If the relationship is established … oh, that’s a minefield, too.

What are the expectations? Are you being boring or smart if you buy that new coffeemaker you both really want instead of the big, heart-shaped box of candy? Are you obligated to get the lingerie instead of curling up in sweats to watch a family flick? Are you aiming to completely ditch the Hallmark commercialization and instead create a “meaningful” experience? And what is that, even? It’s a lot of pressure.

Apparently, it’s a muddle we are all in together. According to a report from the National Retail Federation, this year, roughly 52% of Americans planned to buy things for their valentine. To the tune of $21.8 billion spent on candy, flowers, cards and the like. That’s crazy.

Personally, I take some delight in knowing it did not begin with crepe-paper bunting and paper hearts but rather, like so many holidays, in pagan ritual.

Although scholars can’t say for certain, it’s a good bet that our modern holiday started out as Lupercalia, a Roman festival lasting from Feb. 13-15, during which things got … well, Roman. There was animal sacrifice, drunkenness, nudity and all related manner of goings-on.

I take delight in this because it highlights that we humans continually change our standards of etiquette and then pretend the current mode is the unquestionable way it “should” be. There is so much pressure to fill the day with celebration and romance, but I feel fairly confident that if you were to slaughter a goat and then beat your partner with the flayed pelt, it wouldn’t go over well.

So, let yourself off the hook. If you have a honey, let them off, too. If you are single, be doubly forgiving to yourself. Forget all the “shoulds.” Next Valentine’s Day, start a new tradition of being loving, thoughtful and kind to yourself and others as a daily practice and I bet life will quickly become better than even the most lavishly produced Hollywood rom-com could ever be.

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