Valentine’s Day means more than romance
Valentine’s Day is a lucrative holiday for the greeting card, candy and restaurant industry.
The National Retail Federation told Time magazine that only 55 percent of Americans celebrate the holiday, but spend an average of nearly $150. In fact, the estimated total Valentine’s Day spending this year will be nearly $20 billion, according to the report.
Still, for some, Feb. 14 is more than just cards, candy and dinner.
Three Park City residents — Marketing Consultant Meisha Lawson Ross, Fox School of Wine Headmistress Kirsten Fox and Egyptian Theatre Marketing Director Christie Dilloway — weighed in with The Park Record to talk about their Heart Day philosophies and share their ideal dates and fondest memories.
Meisha Lawson Ross
Ross doesn’t consider herself a hopeless romantic, but she feels it’s nice to have a day set aside to recognize and appreciate someone she loves, especially when it comes to her husband Adam.
For them, Valentine’s Day isn’t a big deal, however it does give them an excuse to do something different, she said.
"Adam is a chef for Bistro 412, so Valentine’s Day for him is about creating memories for other couples," she said. "However, I’m excited for this year because Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday and he has Sundays off. So, fingers crossed, we might be able to spend the day together."
Like many people in the Park City hospitality industry, the Lawsons work opposite schedules.
"In doing so, we learn to steal special moments when they happen," Lawson said. "For us, those moments typically happen in the morning."
One of those times happened a few years ago.
"I used to wake up and go to the gym, and when I came home after one workout, there were flowers on the table, which I thought was a nice touch, because Adam works nights and early morning isn’t his go-to time," Lawson said. "Come to find out he woke up after I left and ran to the store to buy flowers, a card and stuff to make a special breakfast.
"He doesn’t usually pull things off like that, and unfortunately for him, it set the stage to make Sunday breakfasts," she said with a laugh.
Lawson’s ideal Valentine’s Day date would consist of breakfast at home and skiing.
"Scene Adam is a chef, we have a tendency to stay away from restaurants on those busy days, although I do joke with Adam about booking a table at Bistro when Valentines Day isn’t on a Sunday so I can spend time with him," Lawson said with a laugh. "But really, we would much rather spend time at home with a light dinner, music and wine, because it’s more about togetherness for us, rather than the big consumerism of it all."
Fox said it would behoove her to cite her husband Martin to be the most romantic Valentine of her life. And he set the bar high when they were dating.
"A year into our courtship, just after the 2002 Olympics, I was working with NBC at the time and we were set up at Deer Valley as a liaison to all of these affiliates who came to town for the event," Fox said. "Martin took me to Alta and we had an amazing ski day and my co-workers all took bets about whether or not he was going to propose, because we were serious." Although Martin didn’t propose that night, the two enjoyed a day of skiing and great dinner afterwards.
"That was great for me, because my legs were tired form skiing and I was out dining with someone I loved," Fox said.
But that wasn’t Fox’s most memorable Valentine’s Day of her life. That happened back in 1973, when she was 10.
"I grew up in a family where my parents wouldn’t allow candy in the house, but I had a major sweet tooth and the biggest bad-girl thing I would do was take 10 cents out of my allowance and stop at the Denny’s between my house and my elementary school and buy wintergreen LifeSavers," Fox said with a laugh. "I mean, they were small and I could keep them in the bottom of my backpack and no one would know."
That Valentine’s Day, Fox, her mother and two sisters were at the dinner table when her father walked in.
"He had three huge red boxes of Valentine chocolates that had the bows and everything," Fox said. "They were for my sisters and me, and my first thought was, ‘Oh, my God. My mom is going to freak out.’ Because this was so much candy for all three of us."
Apparently, Fox’s parents had made an agreement because her father had a big smile on his face as he was handing over the boxes and her mother didn’t say a word.
"I went into my room after dinner and opened the box and all the shapes and colors of the candy just blew my mind," she said. "I remember debating whether or not I should take the little brown accordion paper that held the chocolate out with the candy or just leave them in their spaces, because this was a whole new thing for me." Fox ultimately decided to leave the papers in place.
"That was the single, most surprising Valentine’s Day of my life and it was great," she said.
Fox’s take on the Valentine’s Day reflects many who feel one day out of the year isn’t enough to show love to someone.
"I would rather that every day be Valentine’s Day, because I feel the world would be a better place," she said. "I suppose that would make Hallmark, the candy shops and the Fox School of Wine happy because everyone would come in to celebrate their love."
Dilloway doesn’t think too highly of Valentine’s Day because of her experience working in the hospitality industry.
"I kind of grunt when I think of it because I know that it’s one of those days when restaurants are overpacked and it’s difficult to be served," she said with a laugh. "Because of that, I don’t want to go out to dinner, especially this year because it’s also President’s Day weekend."
Instead, Dilloway would rather go out on a different day and enjoy a long, unrushed, romantic dinner.
"I would go out on Feb. 15 or Feb. 13 or just maybe do a lunch," she said.
Dalloway’s favorite Valentine’s Day experience wasn’t romantic, nor was it spent with a significant other.
"I was at the Torino Olympics in 2006, working for one of their sponsors and I didn’t have to work that day," she said. "I wasn’t aware what the date was."
She hung out with a friend, who had run into a bunch of friends from California.
"We ended up going to a hospitality lounge at 11 o’clock in the morning," she said. "On the way there, an Italian TV crew came up to us and asked us to say something on camera. They kept saying ‘San Valentino, San Valentino,’ but none of us spoke Italian and didn’t realize what they were saying."
Once Dilloway and the group got to the lounge, they noticed all the chairs were covered in white fur and the place was totally decked out.
"It was all swanky and there was all of this cool music playing and was also packed with hundreds of helium-filled red-heart balloons," she said. "I was there with all of these people and we couldn’t figure out what the theme was. And then suddenly I went, ‘Oh, my God. It’s Valentine’s Day.’"
This was Dilloway’s perfect Valentine’s Day to date.
"It was idyllic because the experience encapsulated many of my passions — international travel, mountain skiing, making new friends and the Olympics," she said.
That said, Dilloway said her ideal Valentine’s Day outing would have to include live music and more traveling.
"I would love to share that experience with a special person or with a crowd at a concert because everyone’s emotions are heightened and there is a lot of energy," she said. "I also think when you’re out of town, you can remove yourself from the everyday and it becomes more romantic. The time is more impactful and you can focus your attention on the other person.
"I have spent fun Valentine’s Days in Mexico and other places where it’s warm where I can put my toes in the sand and feel the warm wind and water on my skin," she said.
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This year’s Eccles Main Stage lineup includes comedy from The Second City, music from Danny Seraphine of Chicago and more.