I've always loved making unusual valentines to express the goofiness of my love. One year I made my husband a basket filled with pink donuts and toothbrushes; it showed I wanted to please his palate, but I also cared about his dental health. Another year I just took a check from our checkbook and made it out to him for the amount of "one million blow jobs." It made him laugh and acknowledged the fact that after five years of togetherness we had become exceedingly, comically blunt with each other.
On Valentine's Day we might want to find a way to convey a big message simply: our love is eternal, I appreciate you, you still turn me on. But sentiments like that don't always get to the heart of what keeps love alive. The Victorians used the language of flowers to acknowledge the complexity, the messiness, and the practical side of their unspoken feelings, so why can't we use symbols, too?
1.Traditional flower: Ivy = "Endurance"
Modern gift: A Land's End gift card
The message: "I've been with you for so long that the only thing that gets me in the mood is seeing you in a clean pair of chinos."
2. Traditional flower: Fungus = "Resilience, loneliness, solitude"
Modern gift: Two tickets to a sporting or cultural event that you don't care about.
The message: "I have a deep understanding of your likes and dislikes and you have a deep understanding of mine, so I'd prefer it if you and your brother use these tickets, I'd rather stay home and drink wine."
3. Traditional flower: Plumeria = "New beginnings"
Modern gift: Dinner for two at your favorite restaurant, not his.
The message: "I love you but if we're going to have sex tonight, or ever again, then I need to make sure that we don't have a repeat of last year's 'Oh, it's Valentine's Day? I guess I can pick up some take-out on the way home' scenario."
4. Traditional flower: Peony = "You are brave and masculine"
Modern gift: A new set of rims for the Camaro he's been rebuilding in the garage for three years.
The message: "You are one of those guys who thinks there's nothing sexier than a woman who knows that what you want most in the world is a new set of rims."
5. Traditional flower: Phlox = "Our hearts beat as one"
Modern gift: A mix tape
The message: "I never thought I'd find anyone who loves Bauhaus as much as I do."
6. Traditional flower: Nasturtium = "I love how patriotic you are"
Modern gift: A framed copy of the constitution
The message: "I want to get you alone and think up some new amendments."
7. Traditional flower: Yellow carnation = "You have disappointed me"
Modern gift: A grocery list
The message: "We're out of milk. And toilet paper."
Image via AForestFrolic/Flickr