Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I hate Valentine's Day

I'm about to drop a bomb on everyone's sappy red and lace-trimmed parade...

I hate Valentine's Day.

I really despise with a gut-wrenching visceral revulsion.

While the loathing of the Great Red Holiday is usually reserved for the bitter or jealous or chronically single, I am a happy adult in a long-term committed relationship with a husband who tends to be pretty freakin' awesome (He has his moments, but don't we all?).  So don't go jumping to the conclusion that my distaste for this holiday has to do with some horrible shortcomings or emptiness in my own relationship.  No.  I'm good, thanks.

My abhorrence for Valentine's Day has to do with the blatant message sent to men in particular from florists and jewelers and chocolatiers that they should spend, spend, and spend some more.  There is a social pressure to prove your love and devotion in how much money you waste on this completely superfluous holiday.  And there's no need for the gift to have even the slightest emotion attached to it.  With a basic phone call and a valid credit card number, you can have your gift of "love" assembled and delivered by thoughtful and caring delivery people right to your "special" someone by Valentine's Day.  Preferably this happens right in front of her co-workers so she can feel properly validated.  Because love is all about the show you put on...  how public we can make our affection with petty tokens of romantic "love".

Valentine's Day is a stress fest of competition and high expectations.  It's nothing more than a manufactured holiday designed to keep consumer response high after the lull that follows the massive spending trend of the Christmas season.

And the holiday lacks genuineness and honesty.  There is a complete lack of the spontaneity that should accompany real gifts of affection and appreciation, for true acts of love don't follow a calendar schedule and they definitely shouldn't happen once a year.  True acts of love are the subtle and quiet acts of kindness and thoughtfulness and service that happen in everyday life.  They aren't the massive displays of red and pink commercialism that Halmark and FTD have scheduled for us to purchase.

Why does love have to be monetized?  (Other than to beef up the bottom lines of retailers?) How is a dozen red roses that will be dead by next week a more valuable gesture of love than saying a heart-felt "I love you"?  (That's just messed up!)

But my real disgust for Valentine's Day stems from its complete and grotesque glorification of romantic love.  Perhaps in it's defense, I should add that Valentine's Day and it's obsession with romance is just a product of a culture that exalts passionate romantic love.  We've been waiting for it since we watched all of those Disney fairy tales as little kids.  There are novels and movies and songs written in it's praise.  It's what we've come to believe we need to make life complete.  Romantic love is our inspiration and motivation. It is a cultural obsession. A high ideal.  

While our culture holds romantic love in high esteem it is but one form of the many types of love...and the most feeble and fickle and fleeting at that. There are more solid and stable, deeper and permanent kinds of love that don't get their own holiday...probably because they don't need the cheap and shallow trophies that come with other holidays.  True love chugs right along every day with a rooted permanence in our everyday lives, with quiet and unassuming methods of making itself known.  No calendar or cutesy pink cupids needed.

On the other hand, romantic love is shallow and consuming.   But maybe that's why Valentine's Day must roar in with it's heart-shaped balloons and dying flowers...because romantic love is so impermanent.  It's a flash in the pan of our lives.  Here today gone tomorrow.  How perfectly and appropriately symbolic.


vicki said...

Doug cleaned the fridge w/o being that is love!

Alice Jones Webb said...

If your fridge looks anything like most certainly is. :)