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I’ve got a problem with VD.

Oh, I used to be one of you.  I’d smirk at the oversized teddy bears that would pop up in department stores the moment New Year’s Eve had passed.  I’d feel nauseated walking through the sea of red aisles flagging cinnamon hearts and marshmallow cupids.  Most importantly, I would feel smug in the understanding that I had not been duped by the commercialism that is February 14th.    For those who sanctimoniously abstain from Valentine’s Day, it is a strict religion in which no concessions are allowed.  Pure, unabashed disdain for this fictitious love-fest and all of its feathery, chocolaty, flowery, mushy glory is the only acceptable reproach.  When the Red Swarm would kick into overdrive the week prior to V-day, I would retaliate with my Sword of Sarcasm.  Indeed, I was the quintessential “Anti-Valentinian”.  Clearly, from my tone and reference to the past, you can see that this is no longer the case.  So what happened to change my mind?  Was it love?  That heart-wrenching, soul satisfying, earth shattering L-O-V-E?  Oh please, give me some credit.  What made me a convert to Cupid was in fact a very simple and seemingly harmless phrase, which immediately incites an irritation level in me that is indescribable.  I’m referring to two small words: Hallmark Holiday.  Bleh.  Just typing that caused me to shudder.

Let’s make things clear folks.  Hallmark did not invent Valentine’s Day, nor did they ruin it.  That was our doing.  Our deep seeded love for consumerism ruins the point of most holidays, events and celebrations.  At least Valentine’s Day has a saint behind it.  The same people who despise Valentine’s day likely celebrate Mother’s day (yes, I know, she’s a saint….my apologies); buy chocolate bunnies for Easter; pretend they are Irish on St. Patrick’s day; or think that snowmen and reindeer actually have something to do with Christmas.  Let’s call a spade a spade.  All holidays have seen the effects of commercialism and while we don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we don’t need to single it out either.  My argument is that celebrating love in all its forms can be a beautiful ritual.   I think the majority of us detest the Valentine’s Day hoopla because it seems superficial.  So why do we do it? Because it is easy and we are innately lazy when it comes to love.  We prefer to assume that the implied is the same as the understood and that is not always the case.  Sometimes we need a gentle reminder, like say, a special holiday to tell us that we need to be kinder, sweeter and more thoughtful to those we hold dear.

Which brings me back to my pro-Valentine’s Day conversion.  A holiday that celebrates love. What a novel idea.  Once I opened my mind to the idea of treating Valentine’s Day like any other holiday, February became a lovelier month for me.  In true Karen Kho fashion, I found a way to make it all about food and wine.  After all, it is my first true love.  Thus, I chose to always find a way to make it special whether I was a table for two or a single spot at the bar.  I found that consumerism wasn’t so bad when it involved great food and wine, shared of course, with the ones you love.  So for all you naysayers, I have put together “Double K’s Guide to a Successful Valentine’s Day”.

  • Start the day off with a treat.  My advice, breakfast in bed.  I would suggest that you make quiche.   Otherwise you’ll be finding scrambled eggs in your pillow and yolks…well, you get the picture.  If you are making breakfast for yourself, do what you like.  They’re your sheets after all.
  • On that note: Mimosas are garbage.  You should never ruin great champagne with orange juice and you should never drink crappy sparkling wine because you’re mixing it with orange juice.  Skip the vitamin C altogether and find a great bottle of bubbles that suits your price range.
  • If you are feeling adventurous, the internet is magical.  Research a dish that you want to make and search for appropriate wine pairings.  Ask your local wine geek for the best producers that will fit the bill.( )
  • Can’t cook?  Make a reservation at your favourite restaurant.  ( The operative word here is favourite.  I have a secret to tell you that most restaurants don’t want you to know.  There are no romantic restaurants on Valentine’s Day.  They are usually hectic, bustling and have a set menu.  You should avoid this scenario like the plague.  Instead, have a trusted great meal and save room for dessert.  Don’t share.
  • Bake something for your coworkers.  Why?  Because a happy workplace is a productive workplace and eventually you will need to ask one of them for a favour.
  • Looking for real Valentine’s Day romance?  Late lunches are where it’s at.  Book a quiet table, order a bottle (or two) of wine and relax over a gigantic cheese plate. (  You won’t have to fight for a cab mid-afternoon and you won’t be ready for bed.  Wink, wink.
  • Drink Champagne throughout your meal.  Sommeliers call it the “cheating wine pairing” because Champagne is one of the most versatile styles of wine to match with food.  It’s the perfect balance to fat, acid, mineral and spice.  Don’t make it celebratory, make it mandatory.
  • Don’t drink wine? *gasp* Fine. Then invest in a good spirit.  There is the old adage, drink less but better and I find this statement most poignant when it comes to hard liquor.  There is nothing wrong with getting a little saucy on Love Day, but if you want to minimize the hangover, forgo the sugary accompaniments.
  • Single? Don’t drown in your sorrows, revel in your independence! Invite your closest friends over, drink stiff margaritas and eat all of your favourite messy foods that you would never eat if you were on a first date.
  • Finally, call your mother.  Chances are she was the first person to ever give you a Valentine’s Day hug.

Love Always,

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