Valentines Day can be such a pain.
Not because I don’t have a sweetheart (I do), not because I dislike marketing holidays (gawd, I do) and not because I have an aversion to the pudgy winged moppet with a weapon as it’s mascot (yup). It’s because this holiday causes such angst, agony and loneliness—maybe more than being homeless on Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. During those holidays, others compassionately invite the forsaken in, churches & charities prepare turkey dinners and gift giving trees for the indigent and the lonely. Everyone—if they want it—has somewhere to go.
On Valentine’s day? Niente, nada, nothing. No Valentine’s philanthropy for the loveless, no support groups for the lost-to-love crowd. Maybe a therapist?
When I teach creative writing in middle or high school, I watch how this lack of a bf creates such distress. The days leading up to Valentine’s, it’s what most girls are discussing and there’s a covert, schizoid scramble to get coupled before the dreaded day hits so you’re not shamefully solo. But it doesn’t end there. Afterwards, the competition is fierce as to who’s boyfriend was better, what he gave, said, sacrificed.
This sends those poor boys who are ofttimes out of practice, when it comes to gifts & shopping, running a deranged, commonly last minute dash to get the ‘perfect’ present, do the ideal over the top thing.
Doesn’t differ that much in adults. If I had a nickel for the times I’ve heard men and women feel satisfied about how this holiday panned out—I’m in my 50s—I’d have about 70 cents.
Before this was a marketing holiday, its power to seriously wound was small. Indeed, it was fun, especially as a child. Even if Mary got seven valentines and I got three, it wasn’t sheer devastation though we all knew who the class cootie was. Most of us constructed simple hearts adorned with doilies, glitter and a glued-on desiccated candy hearts professing, “Be Mine” and bestowed them to best friends, family, teachers.
Now, it’s often a contest of size, swank, hip, yuppie-mom-made, dollar store duds or Disney given-equally-to-all. Merchandised ‘love’ is force fed to us continuously from every conceivable outlet weeks ahead. Adults steal every holiday and ruin it. Sigh.
When my kids were little, we’d all make valentine’s for each other—some with poems, some not—all customized. As a kid, my parents did small things, if any, for each other but my mamma would compose a personalized poem for each of my brothers and me, paste them onto red hearts she’d cut out of construction paper and doilies and place them on our plates at the breakfast table before school.
That felt like real love…because it was.
There’s more to loving than just the smitten sort. See help me, I think I’m falling…in “distraction” again for further discussion of the disruption that romantic love causes when elevated above the other three loves.
Maybe cherishing yourself, along with honoring all manner of intimacy might be a better way to venerate love than filling a ‘slot’ with just any person, or turning affection into a competition.