The best things in life are free, without obligation and unconditional.
However, when those best things are not easily found, it doesn’t hurt to try buying a few hours of happiness — and this Valentine’s Day, happiness is accepting meal points.
Starting two years ago as an idea from one of the cooks, some dining commons on campus began offering Valentine’s Day dinners, and this year will be no different. Today, Warnock and Findlay dining commons will feature private Valentine’s Day meals.
Maureen Volz, manager of food services at Warnock Commons, said students have responded well since the dining commons
“Our cooks enjoyed doing the upscale dinner and the participants enjoyed dining in our special decorated, private dining room,” Volz said.
Nick Savereno, a manager at Findlay dining commons, said there are reservations for 60 people spread out over two different seating times at 5 and 6:45 p.m.
“We just wanted to offer our students the opportunity to have the table-serviced dinner that they most likely wouldn’t be able to afford if they were to go to a restaurant downtown,” Savereno said.
The dining commons offers an inexpensive alternative to typical Valentine’s Day festivities, and in doing so, pays tribute to the idea that not everything in life needs to be complicated, expensive or grand to be meaningful — or delicious.
The menu at Findlay dining commons includes spinach salad with poppyseed dressing, 8-ounce New York strip steak, lobster tail, cheesecake and sparkling grape juice.
“We always get excited about our special dinners,” Savereno said. “This one is kind of fun for our students because we get to do table service.”
Savereno and Volz said that both Warnock and Findlay were quite booked for both seatings, and that there had been an enthusiastic response.
Another inexpensive option for diners this Valentine’s Day is McDonald’s.
McDonald’s will be having a candlelit dinner at four of its locations in the vicinity: 442 E. College Ave., 2821 E. College Ave., 1615 N. Atherton St., as well as 802 N. Eagle Valley Rd. in Milesburg, Rosemary Broome, a marketing manager at McDonald’s, said.
“I expect there will be a nice turnout, a combination of couples, friends and their children,” Broome said. “It’s an environment set for everybody — not just couples, but friends come out to candlelight dinners too.”
Conversely, for those looking to have a more traditional and extravagant meal, the Nittany Lion Inn offers a special three-course meal both today and Saturday, with a choice of wagyu steak, quail or a vegan meal, according to its website.
The Inn also offers a “Nothing Kooky About Itt” Valentine’s Day package including two tickets to see “The Addams Family” at 7:30 tonight at the Eisenhower Auditorium, overnight accommodations with chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne and a breakfast buffet the next morning, according to their website.
Valentine’s Day today may be a commercial event with million-dollar stakes for the greeting card, chocolate and flower industries, but it began humbly, first as a celebration of a Catholic saint .
This year, the average person plans to “spend $130.97 on candy, cards, gifts and more, up from $126.03 last year” with total spending reaching $18.6 billion, according to the National Retail Foundation’s Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.
Whether one chooses to spend Valentine’s Day lavishly or humbly is a personal choice that varies by individual interpretation of love.
But today is, first and foremost, a meditation on love — not just romantic, but neighborly, platonic and human love, too.
And that’s worth remembering.