Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, and frequent readers and friends are probably not surprised to know that this is not one of my favorite holidays. In fact, I am not a big fan of ANY of the so-called Hallmark holidays. Just as with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, do we really need a day of corporately constructed conscience to remind us to say I love you?
V-day basic training for this eventual conscientious objector began in grade school when I was presented with a white paper bag and the obligatory red and pink construction paper. I wanted blue, but I was told Valentines are red or pink. How about yellow? No, Valentines are red or pink. Why? Because American Greetings, the Whitman Sampler, and God say so. Huh? Yes, Cupid is an angel, and you don’t go against God. So heeding the divine call of the 13th Commandment, thou shalt make the appropriate color paper valentines, I began to cut out with expertly maneuvered blunt scissors, the perfect pink and red hearts made by folding the paper just so. A little bit of glue and glitter, and viola, a pink and red valentine holder worthy of grace. For years to come, purchase after purchase of single sheet, paper valentines, arrayed with my favorite Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons, were placed in each student’s bag. Everyone received one, everyone, including Carlton, who I protested. He was mean to me, pulled my hair every day, and looked up my dress at nap time.
As I got older, I began to figure out that this made-up holiday is more about guilt than love. Each year became a logarithmic scale of symbolism over substance. Have I done enough? Chocolates, dark or milk, or nothing? If nothing, will she think that I think she is fat? A card, Hallmark or other, and will other seem less than I care to send the very best? Roses, one dozen or two, and can I finance? Or does she think roses are trite and prefer lilies or tulips or sunflowers? Oh, my. Jewelry, necklace or bracelet, diamond or ruby? Restaurant, the table in the back by the fireplace…damn, it’s been booked for six months? Will it look like I didn’t try hard enough?
Enough! Stop the insanity! I’m sure Geoffrey Chaucer never envisioned this single day of pink and red retail and restaurant propaganda eclipsing his idea of courtly and romantic love. An affair of the heart transcends time and place and needs no official one day reminder. Live your love every day of your life without amalgamated instruction or an annual calendar day of passion. I agree the words, “I love you” are a present, but they do not come with a don’t open ‘til February 14th label.