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Thursday, 12 February 2009

Frugal This Valentine's

Frugality and Valentine's Day need not be diametrically opposed. Frugality despite Valentine's Day is the proof that love can conquer all. Valentine's Day has been synonymous with expensive dinners, expensive gifts, and expensive roses. If there was to be another sort of flower, it would not be appropriate for Valentine's Day. If there was no big expensive dinner, it would not feel like Valentine's Day. Really? If that is the case, how do the poor fare every Valentine's Day? In the time of economic slowdown, is it not more important that love continue to shine, and to hold the other close, despite the difficulties of the wallet? Is it not important to live the journey of a lifetime's love together with an overall better experience, than to splurge half a month's worth of salary on a single night, and perhaps its eve? If love was meant to be measured by the splurging of money, where then would that leave the man who has been dealt a terrible blow --- losing every bit of wealth, the way Job lost his in the Bible? Would he have lost the ability to express love? Surely, then, love is more than just a show of silver, and the glimmer of gold. Love is more than the flash of purple and blue in the diamond, more than the blip and bloop of the newest mobile phone.

Yet, tell me, whether there is a single woman out there whose heart will not race when her lover splurges on her, on that special day -- Valentine's Day. To women, it may be like a competition, where they compare notes the next day and assess how well they fare compared with their friends. Is it really necessary? Is it not better to help protect the financial assets of your loved one, and help him build up wealth that can bring the both of you on a longer, further journey -- the journey of a lifetime? Some women disregard it, the goodness that you have tried to lavish on them every single day, and instead focus on the gifts and goodness they receive on that special day -- Valentine's Day. (I know that this is true because my fiancee is one such creature, who, despite my trying to please her every single day of the week running up to Valentine's Day, would lash out with harsh words if I failed to please her on that Valentine's Day. I have since learned that when special dates are concerned, I could better preserve the relationship by focussing everything I have on that one day and forgoing the rest. I spend so much on her, it's as though I have a big hole in my pocket. And since her one condition for marrying me is that I should get my own residence -- not rented -- it seems that it will take forever to buy that property, and it may be a long time more before I get married!!)

This Valentine's Day, Ladies -- try to cut your partner some slack. Try to understand that he has tried -- as long as you can see some effort. If all men in the world were to be measured in terms of roses and steaks and gold chains, it would not be fair for some men -- not even if they presented their love in the form of their severed testicle. (Strictly for illustration purposes only, I assure you. Try not to imagine.) Instead, try some of the following suggestions, if both parties agree that the ultimate goal was the most important:

  1. Try home cooked food instead of eating out. Turn up the romanze factor by bringing your own candlelight. Cook the dishes lovingly and painstakingly. Add herbs for pizzazz. And decorate the food with little bits and pieces of vegetables. The effort will show. If all else fails, cook instant noodles. (But at least, you tried...) Clean up the place where you prepare the feast of love. Cleanliness (spick and span!) speaks volumes. Or you could go the opposite direction (clean, nevertheless) and make it a bohemian.
  2. Prepare cards and little fabric clothing that you make with your own hands. Begin by locating a good textile shop. In some cases, the textile may be expensive, so you can buy a small amount of it to embellish plain cloth.
  3. Go for a tour of your local museum, park, waterfall, geyser, or other such attraction. Basically the idea is to capture as many photographs as possible, of you and/or your partner in action. Later, you can collect the developed photographs and create your own collage, or frame them up nicely and place them on the wall as a gentle reminder of the wonderful day you spent together.
  4. Try a new course together with the money that you would have otherwise spent on the Valentine's Day festivities. Learn Japanese, learn how to play the guitar, learn how to fly an airplane. (Yes, I watched Jim Carrey's Yes Man.) You'll make new friends together and acquire new skills together. Besides, you should keep improving in life, otherwise your brain cells will atrophy from non-use.
  5. Invite a few friends over to your humble abode and have a quiet party. Prepare board games or party games. Charades is a good game. Musical chairs can be fun even when the participants are approaching their 30's. (Or it may be even more fun than when you first played it in school) Think of games and questionnaires so that your guests can mingle in a fun way. Ice breakers are of paramount consideration. And try to keep your guest list below 10 if your apartment isn't all that big.
  6. Paint a painting together. There is nothing more gratifying than producing art and hanging it on the wall -- it's like seeing your baby graduate. Think of common ideas or themes and begin in turns. A riot of colours, unusual in their selection, could make an otherwise ordinary painting look like a film negative. Otherwise, reinterpret tired old themes to come up with your own, lively (and possibly capable of commercialization) painting that will hold lovely memories for you and your partner in years to come.

Remember, the journey together is the most important. Therefore it will be better for you to speak with your partner in openness and honesty. She may marry you if you pretend to be rich before marriage, but once you drop the pretence and come clean about your financial (in)abilities, she may become disillusioned and do some things to "get back at you". It is better for both you and your partner to walk into a long term relationship with both eyes open.