Holding Hands

By Molly Butler

Valentine’s Day is coming. I suppose we ought to talk about love.

Noah and I have never been too keen on Valentine’s Day. It’s fair to say our official stance is: “Whatever.” If I’m going to do anything, I’ll spend the day with gal friends decorating chocolate strawberries, grabbing sushi, sipping bottom shelf champagne. I don’t think anyone should spend the day wishing something lovely would happen. Life’s too short to wait around like Sleeping Beauty.

It’s a dead horse, but I’ll still beat it: this holiday tries so hard to commodify love and ends up breeding a disfigured little beast. The desperation. The manufactured loneliness. The unwinnable comparison game that keeps our retail economy churning. I know this is a tired take, but the plastic hearts of chocolate feel cheap, I don’t want to eat anything that’s been saturated in Red Dye 40 and the dead-eyed stuffed bears all look like they ought to have a knife in hand. Then, in the spirit of everything-must-go-capitalism, on the 15th, all that crap is sitting on the shelves with neon SALE stickers. Turns out the price of romance plummets at midnight. Hey, if you just wait a day, love is buy-one-get-one!

Am I being a total drag? Probably. And maybe the only reason I can afford to be so critical is that I’m in the sweet spot; too old and taken to be heartbroken, no secret admirers bought me a school candy gram and too young to know what I’ve gotten myself into with this whole marriage thing. I’m sitting comfy, cocky and probably a tad naïve with my sweetheart. Who needs trinkets? We’ve got the real deal.

Don’t cheapen your heart because that thing is priceless.

I don’t know. Lately, I’ve heard too many heartbreaking stories. I know too much about how “I love you” can be used as a Trojan horse to smuggle disrespect, neglect and abuse. I see grand gestures used to “make up for” terrible behavior. I hear stories of people feeling absolutely floored when they’re treated properly for the first time, and it makes me furious. Cupid’s arrow isn’t meant to draw blood. Love should only be hard because life is hard; not because the one you love is hurting you.

You deserve the flowers and assorted chocolates and a completely impractical ten-foot teddy bear if that’s what you want, but they’re no substitute for being treated with care and respect, for tenderness and vulnerability, for honesty and trust and safety. In the words of Kacey Musgraves, from her dreamy, pre-divorce album “Golden Hour,” “Love is a wild thing.” True that. And there is no substitute. Just don’t forget that important little piece about respect. As Musgraves puts it in her post-divorce album “Star-Crossed,” “But all of his wounds ain’t an excuse/For you to put up with how he treats you.”

I guess my point is, don’t buy it just ‘cause they’re selling it. Don’t compare your bouquet to the ones you see on your Facebook feed. Don’t trade your happiness for a forced gesture. Don’t cheapen your heart because that thing is priceless. And, if you’re one of the lucky ones, don’t wait until February 14th. Love your people every chance you get.

Have a lovely weekend.


Head to the VINE Adult Community Center for Caregiving: Powerful Stories of Love. More than 53 million Americans are caregivers. Two former caregivers will share their experiences of loving and providing care for their spouses while attending to their own self-care. Stick around for Scott Kudelka of the Minnesota DNR at 1 p.m. for a discussion on wolves and wolf ecology. This educational session is FREE to VINE members; $5 for non-members.

Head to the Mankato Makerspace for another Stained Glass Make-N-Take class! From 3-6 p.m., learn how to create a Suncatcher! Class is $80 and includes instructions, materials, and at the end, you get to take home your creation! Register here to sign up.

It’s game night! Head to the Police Annex by the North Mankato Taylor Library from 4-6 p.m. for Chess Night! Register here to play. Then, at 6 p.m., head to Atlantis Hobby on Front Street for the Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Prerelease! There will be exclusive promos, pack-per-win, plus more giveaways! Entry is only $25; head to their website to reserve your spot.

Catch some live and local music! Bill Johnson will be at Chankaska Creek Winery from 6-8:45 p.m., and Crista Bohlmann will be at the Starkeller Brewery in New Ulm from 6-9 p.m. The Amy Manette Band will be at the WOW! Zone beginning at 6 p.m., and B&B Karaoke will be at the Oleander Saloon starting at 8 p.m. Finally, don’t miss some classic dinner theater just in time for your romantic weekend! The Mankato Playhouse presents “Who Murdered My Sweetheart?” Tickets are selling out fast, so get yours here.


The Blue Earth County Library will host Dr. Henry Morris, the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at MSU Mankato for African-American Contributions in History. This presentation will educate and promote equal opportunity and cultural diversity. This lecture and discussion is free to the public and begins at 10:30 a.m. Then, from 1-3 p.m., head to the Children’s Wing at the BECL for Lego Club! Invent, design and create anything you can imagine. Legos are provided.

The Kato Ballroom will host a Valentine Dinner and Dance featuring live music by the Whitesidewalls. Cover is $20, and the party begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are available through their website. Catch Jim McGuire at the WOW! Zone performing from 6-9 p.m. Call ahead to reserve your table. Finally, Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery will host a Murder Mystery! ‘Til Death Do Us Part is on from 7-9 p.m. Dress the part and enjoy appetizers while solving the mystery…or die trying! Tickets are limited; purchase yours here.


The St. Peter Lion’s Club will host Dad’s Belgian Waffle Breakfast at the St. Peter American Legion Post 37 beginning at 9 a.m. The Mankato Playhouse will have two showings of “Who Murdered My Sweetheart?” beginning at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m.

Added Value: Be Their Valentine

Not everyone is a Grinch about this holiday like I am, and in fact, there are a lot of good folks that could probably use a Valentine. Kids who’ve had their schedules disrupted by COVID-19, nursing home residents and staff, your firefighters and veterinary office and nurses and cashiers and grocery store workers and therapist office and social workers and first responders and non-profits. So, while you’ve got the glitter glue and paper hearts out, keep them in mind. Maybe even send along one of those heart-shaped pizzas or some cookies if you’re feeling extra generous. Share the love. Happy holidays.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.