I come from a family of gift givers. The focus at our house growing up was finding presents with a lot of thought behind it (poems and handmade gifts were prized above all others), not just some random thing no one wanted anyway. So this was how I viewed the world, then along came Captain.
My husband is officially the worst gift giver on the planet (He's gotten better, but the title is well earned). It's not his fault, he grew up in a family that didn't believe much in giving gifts (at all, canceling Christmas when he was 12). We struggled in the early years of our relationship, both with our separate ideas of what's the best way to do things.
I insisted that he should be able to find something that makes him think of me, or write me a love letter, or something that had thought behind it, he countered that if he bought something, the more money spent the more he loved me.
He insisted that he loves me everyday, so why should one day be special. I countered that I don't look at it like I don't love him any other day, but I jump at any chance to celebrate the amazing love that we share.
Eventually, with a lot of compromising on both our parts (we are very good at that) we came up with a Valentine's tradition that we love. Every Vday we go to a restaurant that we've never been to before. No gifts necessary, just conversation. I LOVE this tradition. Not only does it mean a nice evening together with my husband (no cell phones allowed), but I get to try something new. My husband is a creature of habit and would only go to 1 or 2 restaurants for the rest of his life and be totally happy.
I look forward to our conversations each year about where we should go, any places we've thought about trying, etc. One year, when we couldn't afford much, we opted for trying a new recipe instead.
I know many are so fed up with the commercialism of Vday that they ignore it all together, and that's their choice. But for me, Vday is a chance to dress up a little (I never get to otherwise) and share a unique fun experience with the man I love more than anything in the world. For the rest of my life, I know there's one day a year that our love will take a new adventure.