Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Defense of Valentine's Day

Since it's only a few days away, Valentine's Day is really getting some flack.

It seems to be the favored holiday to hate- everyone from single people to florists to restaurant staff to those who regularly bemoan our consumerist society.

But I must respectfully disagree.

Valentine's Day is one of my most favorite holidays, right up there with Thanksgiving, for being at its purest a celebration of something wonderful- love.

Yeah, certain powers that be want you to think that you have to spend a great deal of money to make this holiday significant, whether it be candy, stuffed animals, flowers or jewelry (while we're on the topic, could that Kay Jewelers necklace that Jane Seymour is hawking look any more like butts?)
Who knew Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was such a perv?

And yeah, you could fall for that. But honestly, the commercialization of Christmas hurts my heart far more than aisles of pink and red heart-shaped boxes of mediocre chocolates. There's something far more obscene about people celebrating Jesus' birth with big-screen tv sets than buying some flowers for your loved one.

And I must also disagree that it's a holiday that solely serves to taunt the unattached, the single, and the lonely. And I think I have my parents to thank for that.

You see, I grew up believing Valentine's Day wasn't about mushy romantic love. It was a day set aside to make sure you told the people you love that you loved them. That was it. My parents made a big deal out of Valentine's Day for us, because they saw it as a day to celebrate their love for us. My dad bought me flowers for my very first Valentine's Day, when I was barely two months old.

And then when I was ten, two days before Valentine's Day, we had a horrible house fire late at night that only reinforced my love for this holiday and what it really represented.

My brother and sister and I were taken to our grandmother's to stay while my parents tried to salvage what they could of our house and find us a new place to stay and new stuff. When they came to pick us up, in spite of everything, they had a Valentine's Day card for me. It was simple- an illustration of a pink ice cream soda that on the inside said something like 'You're So Sweet.' But my mom and dad wrote how much they loved me and that everything was going to be okay, words I really needed to hear at a time when I was wearing borrowed clothes and had lost everything I had ever owned in my short life up till then. I still have that card. It's the essence of Valentine's Day to me.

And my parents also brought another special treat: my 4th grade classmates had saved my valentines for me. Looking through the cheesy little punch-out cards bedecked with Smurfs and other cartoon characters, I felt normal. I felt like a normal little girl, not one that had just a few weeks ago gone running through a smoke-filled hallway dodging sparks that were shooting down from the ceiling. Those tiny cards with their ink-blotty or smudgy pencil signatures were the greatest gift I could have received.

So give Valentine's Day a break. Don't give in to what Jane Seymour and her butts necklace want you to think the holiday is. Use it as an opportunity to tell people in your life that you love them. You can never do enough of that, anyway; what's the harm in a day set aside to remind you? And if you're really feeling lonely, make your way to your local animal shelter and heal a heart you find there. You'll never find love as generous and unconditional as a pet's.

Oh, and don't forgot that you can load up on candy super-cheap the day after.