So, today is Valentine’s Day.
What it once might have been, it is an utterly useless and over-hyped commercial frenzy of candy, flowers, and greeting cards.
When I was in elementary school, Valentine’s Day would be moderately hyped in the classroom for the week or two leading up to it. We would carefully tape brown paper sacks in front of our desks, which would serve as “mailboxes,” complete with our names neatly printed. Students (or their parents) would buy boxes of cheap cardstock commercial cards, complete with envelopes. The good boxes came with 30 or more unique images with silly phrases or rhymes, but the cheap ones had only a few designs, with multiples of each design. The student would sign each one and stuff it into the envelope provided, and write a fellow classmate’s name on the outside. In the few days leading up to VD, we’d deliver our cards to all the other students in our class, neatly depositing the card-filled envelopes into the proper paper sack ‘mailbox’.
On Valentine’s Day proper, usually toward the end of the class day, we were allowed to open our ‘mailboxes’, dump out the cards on our desks and open them. In theory, every student would have gotten a card from every other student. It was quite evident that this theory did not play out in reality. Some kids went through this exercise like any other — automatic, robotic, and simply including everyone, without much emotional attachment. So, in a class of 30 students, for example, each student should have gotten 29 cards (or 30 if they gave one to themselves). Some students were poor and didn’t give any cards to anyone; some students were clique-ish and only gave cards to their in-circle; some were caught in the throes of grade-school romance and went over-the-top with hand-made cards for their ‘special friend.’ And some kids went home with a scant handful, feeling dejected and rather unloved, while other students found themselves the target of a crush they did not reciprocate. .
Near as I can tell, this horrid ritual of emotional turmoil continues in schools, as I see similar boxes of grade-school Valentine’s cards, with cartoonish figures and hearts, all neatly boxed with bright colors and stacked in the grocery shelves next to aisles of candies, fancy heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and those hideous ‘conversation hearts’ of colored/flavored chalk-like candies.
As an adult, Valentine’s Day is little more than a marketing ploy to sell cards, candies, jewelry, and flowers. You are supposed to take your beloved to a fancy restaurant, or do some other over-the-top display of romance.
That’s not reality. It’s a show. If you love someone you will show it all year long. Personally, I would not trust someone making a big show for Valentine’s Day, while being a jerk the rest of the year. Or even if they were nice the rest of the year, I still wouldn’t want a calendar date dictating when or how someone is expected to make a special display of ‘love.’
Valentine’s Day is not about love. It’s about promoting an artificial sense of romance. Or lust. Or some other elevated sense of …. something, whatever it might be. But it’s not love, in my opinion. Modern commercialized Valentine’s Day is promoted so that those who are vulnerable to the hype are set up to expect flowers or candy or some other tangible gift. You are “supposed to” have a partner, a romantic relationship, knowing you are ‘loved’ by how much money is spent on finding you that special gift.
As I have shared many times over the years, you are not someone’s “better half,” and nobody “completes” you. One is a whole number, not a fraction. If you have a loving partner, that’s great. If you don’t have one, that’s still great and you are whole already.