Being a newlywed comes with a lot of responsibilities, one of which being to make Valentine’s Day a perfect experience. A fancy dinner at a favorite restaurant, a movie outing, flowers and chocolates ordered expressly for the occasion, and strategically placed decorations. It must be perfect. Scripted straight from a greeting card.

And just as I hoped, it was shaping up to be exactly that.

The flowers and their accompanying chocolates were scheduled to be delivered that day. Movie tickets were ready to go. Dinner reservations had been made at our favorite restaurant weeks in advance. Everything was coming together. I’d finally marked off everything on my Post-it Note checklist.

I couldn’t wait for the big day and I was just as giddy as I was on the day we got married.

As I settled into bed with every possible negative circumstance planned for, I thought I was in for a restful night of sleep. Apparently, it was not the case; my subconscious decided it would thrust me into a frightful dream…

We woke up on Valentine’s Day to find over a foot of snow blanketing the parking lot after a storm that even caught meteorologists by surprise. They’d only predicted flurries the night before.

As I frantically rolled over, I saw a voicemail from the flower shop telling me that they wouldn’t be making deliveries due to road conditions and would be closed to keep people off the roads.

That wasn’t even the worst part.

With road conditions as bad as they were, heading out anywhere was a bad idea. Plows had trouble clearing and maintaining designated emergency routes. Work was cancelled and while for some couples that would essentially be a dream come true, in that moment, it felt more like a nightmare. My meticulously-thought-out plan was falling apart and turning to dust before my very eyes.

I had to cancel dinner. I had to reschedule our movie which proved to be far more difficult than anticipated. And then, I was left with the question of what would be left to do?

This was supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.  I hadn’t even thought to get a back-up gift so I was left with nothing. Not even a teddy bear holding an embroidered heart. I’d failed.

A frantic internet search led me to trying to find a fancy dinner recipe I could throw together. I might not be a professional chef, but I can cook a decent meal. I didn’t want my spouse to do anything; I wanted to make the day special.

I settled on one of our stand-by dishes to be safe. I was sure that if I tried to make something completely new that something else would go wrong.

As I placed the pan on the stove, my phone rang. I couldn’t find it and had to rush around looking for it, leaving dinner unattended for a moment. When I went back to check on it, smoke tinged the air. Somehow, in the minute and a half I’d stepped away, the pan’s contents had ignited.

Valentine’s Day was supposed to be full of the flames of love—not literal flames.

Fortunately, I found the fire extinguisher and was able to remember how to use it before the fire department had to be called. (Thank goodness.)

But I was still left with two equally undesirable options: start cooking all over again or settle for eating leftovers. Valentine’s Day is not the time for leftovers.

I was defeated. How could I manage to salvage the day now? I couldn’t.

I’d gone out and bought some fancy new candles for our bedside tables that had been marketed to help relieve stress—exactly what I needed.

Surrounded by the flickering and soothing cool scent of the candles, I drifted off into sleep, only to be awoken by another smoky smell. The container holding the candle was too hot and too close to a rather large book, causing the book to start smoldering. Half asleep, I picked up a glass of water and dumped it over the book and candle, successfully extinguishing the fire.

The splashing water in the dream jolted me awake. I hurriedly rolled over to check the date and time on my phone—finding it yet to be Valentine’s Day.

In order to keep myself (and many others) from potentially having a similar Valentine’s Day experience, here are a few things to do to prepare:

  1. Keep an emergency kit on hand. ( tells you all the stuff that’s supposed to be in it. Pro Tip: these actually make great gifts if you’re looking for a practical gift that can be assembled last-minute.)
  2. Know two exits out of your home or apartment in case of a fire—whether caused by a failed dinner attempt or falling asleep with lit candles. (Did you know that one-third of all candle fires start in the bedroom? That’s why it’s important to remember to extinguish candles before heading off to sleep.)
  3. Know what you would need in case of a power outage or a winter storm. We always suggest things like shovels, salt or cat litter for walkways, extra food and supplies for pets, and batteries for flashlights.

We hope you have a safe, fun, and romantic Valentine’s Day, whether you decide to have a low-key day or make it as cheesy and clichéd as you can.