An Argument for Flowers and Frivolity

So I’m not usually a flowers sort of girl. If I have a yen to have some in the house I’ll often just buy some myself, and I tend to befriend (with or without a romantic relationship attached) practical, generally awesome men who insist they do not ever give flowers to anyone. OF COURSE I considered the practical, generally awesome women in my group as well: they’re about a 50/50 split for and against, but those who don’t do the flower thing usually don’t feel a need to give a reason other than “I don’t like flowers.” See counterpoint #2.

At Renaissance Festival, one of my fabulous friends had a rose sent to me anonymously, just because she knew it would brighten my day, and ever since then I’ve been rolling the usual arguments against gifting flowers in my head when discussing the custom with friends/lovers/etc.

1) “Flowers die/Why would I buy someone I care about a present that dies/How is that a symbol of my affection?” 

So, let’s blow off the obvious argument that physical beauty is temporary, because insisting flowers have no value because their physical beauty only lasts a short time can be extended to other things. You know…like your hot partner who may not be so hot later. I’m sure that’s not the intent of the argument.

Everything dies. Pets die: do we NOT have a pet because we’ll outlive them? Cars die. Gardens die. For crying out loud, even electronics die. The argument against buying flowers because they die is ridiculous: what’s unsaid is “they die too fast.”

Ultimately, it is based on a faulty assumption that the person will outlive the flowers. There are no guarantees that any of us will still be here tomorrow. Flowers are an indication that you appreciate the NOW- the current state of your recipient’s beauty, the current affectionate thought you had for them, the current state of your relationship.

2) “I’m not spending money on something so frivolous/I don’t like flowers.”

To be fair, I hear this one less, but I have still heard it, and it’s the most annoying reason. The argument is just…sigh. It’s a lie. There is value in frivolous things. OH DO LET ME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE. How often do you pay for beer/pizza in a bar, or get Chinese takeout/delivery when you could make groceries you already have in your fridge at home?

What you’re really saying is YOU don’t value the effect a flower has on your partner enough to pay for it, but you’re happy to pay for frivolous things YOU value. Hmm. So, that becomes a “when you purchase something expressly to give as a gift, do you buy something YOU like, or do you buy something you know THEY like?” discussion.

I think there IS an argument for buying someone flowers if s/he has expressed a desire to receive them and values them as a gift, simply because it would make them happy regardless of your feelings on the topic. My ex-husband and I had almost this exact discussion over a decade ago about roses, and he did occasionally bring them home or send them to me even though he still thinks they’re silly, because he knew it mattered to me. I loved that he made the gestures, because I knew he did it purely to give me something I liked.

Today, Starbucks is the MOST frivolous thing I spend my money on. I mean really…I recognize the terrible silliness and waste. And yet, taking me out for coffee or bringing me my favorite drink when I wake up is one of the kindest things a person can do for me: it makes my whole day, and I’m not lying when I say I feel absolutely LOVED because of it. Because of a stupid $6 glass of caffeine and chocolate that we all know is ridiculous.

3) “Flowers aren’t useful, they just sit there.” 

Let’s be clear that giving flowers isn’t really a physical gift. Sure, they’re pretty and smell nice, but that’s after the recipient has already gotten the real present: the FEELING. The rose I received at Fest didn’t last longer than a day or two, but that was weeks ago and I still remember the feelings I had when I got it: surprise, joy, a little bafflement that anyone would bother doing such a gesture for me.

Flowers impart an instant “aww, someone thought of me” feeling. The feeling can be romantic, homey, happy, warm fuzzies of friendship, or any of a bazillion variations. Receiving a flower is an instant of brightness to a day. Flowers in a home conveys a happy, inviting energy right along with their beauty and scent, not unlike burning candles or incense.

4) “Well, why don’t women buy ME flowers?”

Ah, the WORST of all arguments, because it’s a classic turn-the-topic-back-to-me tactic which pretty much indicates there’s no reason to try to rationally discuss it any further. Ultimately, this argument become a moot point. If you repeatedly vocalize your distaste for something as a gift, why on earth would anyone would give that gift to you?

Look, I’m not saying anyone should change their mind if they really hate giving flowers over something else – I’m just offering counterpoints to the reasons I hear most often. Life is often dark and difficult and just plain exhaustingly hard. Flowers might be frivolous, but life NEEDS a little bit of that sometimes. My particular circle of friends and loved ones, men and women, are generally excellent: thoughtful, considerate, kind, and both frivolous and practical. I’m lucky that way, or maybe I’m particularly choosy that way in the people with whom I surround myself. And because of it, I still expect if I want a dozen roses on my table I’ll need to pick them up myself. Ultimately, I’m good with that. And speaking of, it’s a gloomy day today. I think my counter vase needs some colorful residents – Cub flower section, here I come.

After Starbucks. Priorities, people. Priorities.

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