I used to be one of those people who hated Valentine’s Day. I’ve thrown my share of anti-valentines parties over the years and scoffed many a time at the pink and red paraphernalia that goes up immediately following Christmas. Talking teddy bears, cards printed with puppies, roses, and second-rate poetry, jewelry ads galore, and one more excuse for gluttony of every sort. Men run around like headless chickens February 13th desperately avoiding the doghouse while single girls everywhere curl up with tissues in one hand and chocolate in the other. As with most American traditions, the nebulous mainstream society adopts one set of behaviors, and we the ones with fire and fervor still left in us take a stand against them. We are the renegades – the ones who defy the culture and say we won’t be boring or mainstream. We won’t listen to music on the radio, buy Ed Hardy trapper-keepers, or grow up to have the jobs that our fathers do. Hating Valentine’s Day has become chic, like scoffing at PCs or people who don’t understand “social media,” and a way of differentiating ourselves from the herd of sheep.
But how many of us get Christmas presents? How many of us dress up on Halloween? How many of us ring in the New Year with champagne? And who doesn’t have some marti-gras beads hanging on a doorknob or bulletin board in their bedroom? I would venture to say that most of us non-sheep celebrate plenty of holidays that are promoted and marketed by corporations and use them as opportunities to binge on food, drink, pleasure, and materialism – hedonism. I, for one, am all about celebrating the birth of my Lord and Savior, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start thinking about my Christmas list as soon as I start thinking about shepards and angels. I love that Halloween is an excuse for a good girl to dress like a slut without fear of judgment, and any excuse to get a new pair of heels is a good one in my book. I know I’m not alone. But isn’t it ironic that the one corporate-candy-coated-holiday we choose to scapegoat as the all encompassing symbol of consumerism is the one day where we are supposed to share our true feelings for one and other?
I think hating Valentine’s Day is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, we live in a capitalist society. Our entire economy and the world as we know it is based on people consuming more than they actually need; our bathwater is fucking filthy. But in our attempt to damn the man we are in fact throwing out our only chance for happiness – Love.
Lovers have been crafting poetry for one and other on Valentine’s Day since the 1400s, and the first American Valentines were created by a woman out of her home in the 1800s. Valentine’s Day existed long before Hallmark and even before capitalism. Love is a truth, arguably the only truth, of the human race, and with or without roses we ought to value it.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying let’s all go and buy creepy looking stuffed animals that let us record our own greetings and give them to our loved ones. I’m not going to record my voice in a pink chimpanzee and I don’t want your voice recorded in one either. But maybe in this consumerist culture we live in, we need the machine to kick us in the cahones and say “don’t forget to say ‘I Love You’ to that special someone…or else!” If we lived in a perfect world we wouldn’t need Valentine’s Day because we would always do right by the ones we love. But as it is we get busy. We forget to call or call too late. We mean to send a card but it gets buried under a pile of papers. We don’t say ‘thank you’ or ‘I’m sorry’ when we should and we don’t spend even close to enough time reminding our nearest and dearest how fantastic they really are. We look at the ground or out the window when we say I love you, or worse yet we don’t say it at all.
I spent yesterday evening with a few of my closest friends discovering truths about the universe and laughing hysterically – because I love my sisters. This morning I had brunch with my family just like we used to when we were all young – because I love them. Tonight I put off the homework to do some yoga, read, and write with a glass of Bailey’s on the rocks nearby – because I love myself. I sent quirky E-Valentines and quick texts – because I love my friends. And I’m writing to you, pontificating at you about Valentine’s day and making a whole lot of something out of nothing because I Love You.
So today I encourage you to live the spirit of Valentines Day. Take the time to tell the people that matter to you that you love them – remind them you are in their heart and they are in yours.
You are in mine.
“Here is the deepest secret nobody knows.
Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
Which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide.
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.
I carry your heart.
I carry it in my heart.” -e. e. cummings