How Katie *Really* Feels About Valentine’s Day

collage of pictures of katie couric, and one of katie couric and john molner

And what she plans to do for Molner this year.

Not to be a buzzkill, but I don’t want to be anyone’s Valentine.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love Molner and he is my sweetheart, a Valentine’s-worthy word. But I have to agree with my mom who  used to call February 14th a “Hallmark Holiday.”  

Despite my disdain, I consider myself a romantic…just not one who wants to conform to the commercialized, manufactured notion that V-Day has become.

I loved the day when I was a kid. Who didn’t enjoy decorating a shoebox with doilies and construction paper hearts, with a makeshift mailbox slot for all those special deliveries from classmates — even Chris Foley, who I had a crush on in fourth grade (until he tripped me on the blacktop during recess and I broke my front tooth)? I remember buying the paper expressions of love in cellophane packets at the drugstore, signing my name and dropping them off on the desks of my friends, and then coming home, reviewing my stash, and feeling loved. That was fun. But now, I don’t need the calendar to tell me when I need to be especially loving to my spouse. (Actually, Molner may disagree…maybe I do!) 

Where should we go for a “romantic dinner”? Do I need to buy Molner a gift? Should I buy myself a little something as an expression of “self-love”? (After breaking up with a boyfriend in my early 50s, I went to Cartier and told the salesperson, “I want to buy a Valentine’s gift for someone very special…me!”) I haven’t worn sexy lingerie since the 12th of never and Good Lord, I’m not about to start now. I think this makes me a candidate for a no Valentines Valentine’s Day. It all feels so forced. 

Yet, there is something enduring about tangible expressions of love preserved through the years. When I cleaned out my parents’  home — the house they lived in for 57 years — I found a stack of Valentine’s Day cards tucked in a dresser by my mom’s bed.  Seeing my parents’ sweet signatures, my father’s less legible as his Parkinson’s progressed, with sentiments like, “Your loving husband” or my mom’s blocky print “xoxoxoxs” fills my heart.  When I was writing my memoir, I discovered cards from Jay and a letter I wrote him when he was sick. They made me miss him. I recently found at least 10 cards when I was cleaning out the drawer in my bedside table. They were from Molner, from our courtship through our married life, writing about how lucky he felt, what he was looking forward to, why he thought I was — to use an expression better suited to my parents’ generation —“the cat’s pajamas.” They made me smile.  

So, this year I’m going to put pen to paper and write John a letter, reminding him WHY I love him and reminding myself NOT to take him for granted. It will be a celebration of him, me, and us as a couple. In other words, a mushy love letter. What could be more Valentine’s-y than that? A text or email is ephemeral. Paper lasts forever.

Perhaps I’m not such a Scrooge about Valentine’s Day after all. And maybe one day Ellie and Carrie will discover my declarations of love to the two men in my life. And they’ll smile too.