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Real love is coffee and newspapers in bed.

Yeah, yeah, sure, it’s a Hallmark holiday, made up by sellers of candy, flowers and cards (where do those people come from with their pop-up bouquet displays on the side of the road?). A day for good men to feel guilty because the media has told them they must purchase said candy, flowers and cards lest they be judged by the great Saint Valentine (one of the many capitalist saints of guilt and consumerism).

Oh, and ignoring it just makes you look cheap and uncaring. To me, everyday is Valentine’s Day, especially Sundays when I bring Kate coffee (two spoons of sugar, dash of cream, double heated in a pan on the stove because I know she likes her coffee hot) and we sit reading newspapers for hours, watching the day begin, planning for the week, planning for our lives.

Here at casa Williams we roll functionally. February 14 comes right in the middle of ski season and nothing says love like an overnight at the Bear Valley Lodge. Course, I’ve never gotten an overnight at the Bear Valley Lodge because Valentines Day is not about me. Note to all men: Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, V-day all are simple tests of whether you are paying attention. Remember, thoughtful trumps expensive (except when it comes in one of those GD blue boxes, Tiffany always trumps all).

Sure, I’ve screwed the holiday up in the past; all men have tales of Valentine woe. The year of the bathroom scale being my favorite. Never give your wife a bathroom scale for Valentine’s Day; no matter how nice the scale and no matter how many times she has said she wants one.

Knowing the right gift is vital to thinking outside the chocolate box, living plants are better than cut ones-maybe that olive tree she’s been coveting for the corner of the garden. Fig trees are nice, as are flats of herbs. Really impressive is a “planter box promise”, design and draw a box for the yard but don’t execute until she tells you where to put it (this works on two levels, you are caring about her opinion and you don’t have to actually do anything till later).

If you are cheap and poor but thoughtful like me, then start with breakfast in bed and a homemade card or art project (thanks Pinterest). Then have a normal day and a family dinner where you guilt your 16-year old into making a card just like he did when he was 6. Make her favorite meal, exchange gifts (olive tree yes, scale no), watch “Love, Actually” (or even a couple of hours of-shudder-HGTV) and hope for the best.

Real love is not a giant Teddy bear holding a box of Sees candy, although you can never go wrong with Sees candy. Real love is coffee and newspapers in bed, talking and planning, fighting and making up, respecting that she likes hot, sweet, not-so-strong coffee even though you like cool rocket fuel (think “Red Eye” at the Barking Dog).

Real love is taking your vows seriously. If you don’t believe in the “Till Death do You Part” part then don’t get married. And don’t go in thinking it’s all rainbows and flowers either. It’s not, nor should it be. Marriage is challenging, marriage is compromise, marriage is, well, tough. But it’s also the greatest decision you can make. It can lead to the miracle of children, it can comfort, it can inspire, and it can make your life full.

And you deserve to have a life that is full. You work hard, you put up with unsupportive bosses, dysfunctional leaders, and an unknown future. You deserve to have a warm, loving person in your life to come home to and be inspired by. Hopefully someone smarter than you (always marry up), who can fill in the holes of your deficiencies (there are so many), who likes you and understands you and knows that the scale was not a slam about your weight but a thoughtful gift of something you desired.

Now, the canoe you bought her for Mother’s Day was just selfish. Knowing that you are kind of a passive-aggressive A-hole is the first step toward change.

Every day is Valentine’s Day, just like every day is Christmas, and New Years and your birthday. Bring flowers and chocolate and cards to the one you love not because someone tells you to but because you can. Because a world full of love is better than a world full of hate and because if you are lucky enough to find a mate who puts up with all your shit, you’re pretty darn lucky.

Love is not found in a Hallmark card, love is waking up next to someone who makes you feel just a little better about yourself and the world around you. And that’s all we really need, to feel better about ourselves and the world around us.

Now it’s time to go double heat Kate’s coffee…