Wednesday, February 11, 2015
In Defense of Valentine's Day
The irony has not escaped me that my last post was on wrath, and this post is on love. As we almost all undoubtedly know, because the media and consumerism in general would never let us forget, this coming Saturday is Valentine's Day. I've been thinking about love a lot lately, and it therefore felt like I should do a post about this that seems so ironically hated when it's supposed to represent love. One thing we all can agree on, I think, is that like St. Patrick's Day, we've come (or perhaps fallen) a long way from the initial intention of St. Valentines Day - a day of commemoration for a man, later named a saint, who was beheaded on February 14 hundreds of years ago. Although in fairness, he was beheaded for secretly marrying couples when marriage and engagements had been outlawed, whereas St. Patrick, to the best of my knowledge, didn't go around wearing beads and drinking green beer, so at least we've kept something of the point of St. Valentine's Day.
When I was growing up, it was sweet to pass out Valentines, and exciting to receive one. It was consider romantic to ask a girl for a Valentine's day date or buy her flowers. And it wasn't just for lovers. Friends got each other valentines, cards, and gifts. My parents got me Valentine's gifts until I was probably, oh, married and had someone else responsible for getting them for me (more on this in a minute).
These days, it's notoriously called a Hallmark holiday, and people actually make a point of refusing to celebrate it. They also seem to make a point of telling loudly everyone that will listen how they refuse to celebrate it because they know the person they're with loves them and don't need a special day to celebrate it. Or, if they're single, that they think it's stupid. (Hint: those of us who are intuitive enough don't buy it. We know the more loudly you go yelling about some belief, the less secure you are about it and you're really trying to convince yourself, not others). It's not cool to wish you had a Valentine. It's not cool to want to do something special for it. For a while, I admit, I was one of these people. My ex-husband proposed on Valentine's day. I was actually mad at him. Well, annoyed is perhaps is a better word. I'd had one specific instruction for our imminent engagement: DO NOT PROPOSE ON VALENTINE'S DAY. I thought it was a sellout, cheesy. I thought he should be more creative (I was vastly over-estimating my ex here).
You'd think, following my divorce to said ex-husband, that I'd now dislike Valentine's Day even more. But that's not the case. Nor do I like it because of any nostalgic ties to my ex. But I do have a different perspective these days. Quite simply, I love love. I think it's everything, and the rest is just frosting. I think any excuse to tell someone you love them. I feel the same way about birthdays, Christmas, and any other occasion that offers a built in opportunity to treat someone extra special. Of course, as someone who loves love, I don't think we should ignore people 364 days and then be Captain Romance on February 14th. And yes, I know it's a "hallmark holiday" and consumerism surrounding this day has gotten out of control. But you don't need to buy expensive jewelry or go to a fancy dinner to show someone you love them. If your "thing" with your significant other, or your friends, or your family, or your dog, is to sit in your PJs, play board games, and eat ice cream, then why not carve out time on this day to do it. Yes, we should always tell our loved ones how much we appreciate and value and love them. So why not use EVERY excuse to do this? Valentine's Day is one of those opportunities. Let's face it, Christmas has gotten commercialized too, but would you tell your kids "sorry, I don't give in to consumerism, no Christmas this year!"? I would venture not.
I'm not saying everyone must run out and make plans for Valentine's Day. If it truly is a day you and your significant other dislike, then by all means, don't celebrate (I'd check with your significant other before making this decision for the both of you). But don't hate on the people who like it. I get sick of the posturing. I'm a strong woman, and a not particularly girly one - recent Facebook tests tell me "I think 100% like a man, and the "what type of woman are you" quiz told me I'm a tomboy - but I like to give love and feel loved. And to me, that means taking every opportunity and excuse to express it. It's the same reason I think it's cute when I see people update their status to "in a relationship with so-and-so." I'm the type that wants to shout their love from the rooftops. So if you don't want to celebrate it, don't. But don't hate on us who do, like you're better, or stronger, or more loved, for not needing or wanting it.