Friday, 14 February 2014

v-day, d-day

While some may really love this holiday (or generally don't give a damn about this holiday), equal numbers seem to despise it. Really despise it.  Actively. Loudly. Google 'anti-valentine' for a taste. It's funny that Halloween and St. Patrick's can pass so benignly, but Valentine's Day? Let the vitriol spring forth!   

"Why do we need an excuse to celebrate love, anyway? We don't. We don't need a national holiday for love. We should demonstrate our love every day, not just bow to marketing pressure on some random instutitionalized one.  Plus, why should I have to be in love? Cupid is stupid and dating is overrated."

To you, poor offended bunny, I offer the three sweetest words in the English language: 

You are right.  

I'll even do you one better. Here's a list of reasons you're right, even extra ones you may not be bitterly articulating to your social circles:

  • Valentine's Day is blatant commercial opportunism. Companies and advertising agencies capitalize on emotion and encourage people to buy things to demonstrate their love, rather than encouraging people to love openly, freely and regularly, sans pursestrings requirements.
  • Even though the marketing angle may focus on love, there's been an unfortunate social shift from love to guilt. You feel guilty if you forget to buy her flowers or cook him dinner or don't have the time or inspiration (or inclination even) to plan an elaborate surprise. You feel guilty if a family member or friend sends you a card full of candy hearts and you didn't return the favor. You feel guilty that you weren't the one who baked food coloring-laden cookie hearts for the office. Not loving. Not romantic. Grateful, sure. But mainly guilty.
  • The companies trying to profiteer most off this lovefest are often not ones whose actions demonstrate much love - if any - for the domestic and international communities where their products are made and sold. (Here's looking at you, Coca Cola; and Apple, you're not getting away either, with your bizarre evite to shop your Valentine's Day collection. A heart-shaped iPad wouldn't seem so appropriate tomorrow...)
  • Single, dating, married, divorced, cohabitating, bro-mancing, girl crushing, some quirky Her kind of thing going on - what does it matter? Why is that the love relationship we fixate on? I love all kinds of people - my family, my friends, my co-workers, the guy at the coffeeshop who remembers my order, the woman who doesn't make me pay for my overweight suitcase, the sellers at farmer's markets who encourage you to take their free samples - and I would love them regardless of whether or not I also am in love with a partner.  If this is a day about love, it should be about love in its manifold incarnations.
  • Don't even get me started on the potentially murky waters of childhood valentines: bullies, favoritism, pressure, exclusion, loneliness, heartbreak. (Although, none of that is exclusive to Valentine's Day. Or to children.)

But I also believe this:

 If we should be basking in love and loved ones every day, then we should support occasions that encourage people to do just that. (Sentimentally, no financial support required.) A reminder to demonstrably love thy family, friend, colleague and neighbor? A reminder to recognize how much we care for one another and take time to consider how we could show it? A reminder to celebrate romance and love stories and the relationships that most define who we are and what we care about?

Eh, could be worse.

Consider it a national shove into the pool for kids who are scared of lovey-dovey waters.
(And just be glad no one's going to knock on your door demanding candy, or dye your morning latte green and inexplicably pinch you for your sartorial failings.)

Instead of a high-pressure date night or a hoopla of heart-shaped truffles, Valentine's should be inspiration to stop and consider what you love about the people around you, and how you could  show them what makes them special. Love is awesome. Celebrate that!

(I plan on making pizza and chocolate bark with my love and giving him and extra squeeze or six, plus Skyping our families for some quality face time. It will be excellent.)

And if hearts are really your thing, then you can take a page out of fair Drew B's book and take the day to find it in everything.  

Equally important, without Valentine's day, how would anyone have an excuse to make these? 

Do you really want to rob the world of such a punny opportunity?

[Rhetorical.  Obviously.]

So, to all you lovers and haters and apatheticizers out there, whether you want to hear it or not,

Happy Valentine's Day!  I think you're great.


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