Flowers, chocolate, pink and red. A card, possibly jewelry, maybe a meal. Sometimes lingerie. These are the socially approved indicators of affection. Vary the combination, amount and cost of each element to indicate the relative level of the emotion, and repeat annually for duration.
I'm no cynic. I cry at weddings. I like making valentines. I never say no to flowers. These things have their place. But love - being in love - is a weird-ass thing. Time doesn't make it any less weird.
To be in love with someone is summon a new world out of the void. Some are as small and dense as Asteroid B-612 and some are as vast and nebulous as gas giants. When you conjure this place, hand in hand together, you can't know what it will be. The path takes form as you walk it. And there is a joy in being the lord of creation. At first, everything is wild and intoxicating. Over time, rules are established, taboos are set, new and further continents discovered. The rocky wastes are mapped and swamps and pits are slogged through. Occasionally strange and terrifying beasts appear and must be slain or domesticated. Sometime the world implodes. Sometimes it is abandoned. But if you are lucky and determined, you create a world you can live in for a very long time.
Into this private realm comes Valentine's Day. It is love's used car lot - a stunning thing to find plunked down in your unspoiled wilderness. Lots of models available, proven, road-tested, complete with air-bags. You don't have to do much thinking, you can just buy and drive, and the action is a relief. After all, it takes a lot to create a world, and it is a release to be given an out from perpetual discovery. So Valentine's Day has its uses. My husband and I, on our own little planet, will exchange cards, candy and flowers, and we'll laugh, because these tokens are not native to us. But we do it because the inhabitants of countless other unknowable planets are doing the same, and stuck in our place of joyful strangeness, it is nice to know that in a small way we're not alone.