Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine, Obviously

I doubt I need to tell you it's Valentine's Day. It's not quite on par with Christmas when it comes to over-commercialization but it's up there, so there's little chance if you live in America, and in the past few weeks you have watched commercial TV, read a magazine or newspaper, or visited any websites with ads, you've heard about how the greeting card/flower/chocolate/restaurant industrial complex would like you to spend your money to bestow gifts on February 14.

Many have issue with Valentine's Day as a crass concoction of the aforementioned greeting card/flower/chocolate/restaurant industrial complex. While I fully concede that the over-commercialization of it does elicit cynicism about the way the holiday manifests itself in contemporary society, and I see how it can come across as a punch in the heart to those who don't have a valentine on February 14th, for me I am long since weary of the way advertisers make it seem like unless you drop a small fortune (or not so small, in the case of the diamond merchants) you're a horrible husband/boyfriend and your significant other should question the continuation of your relationship (and the concern that such ads actually do influence even intelligent women or gay men). Basically, it's the imposition of some Valentine's standard for proving one's love that seems likely whatever you do will fail to meet it.

And no matter what you think about the holiday, I think we all can agree it shouldn't be about that.

This is obvious, but I'll say it for the record: If you are fortunate enough to have love in your life (and I certainly hope you do) you should be celebrating that (at least in small ways) every day. And the thing is: In my marriage, I genuinely believe I try to do that. Some days are better than others, sure, but love is more than just a February 14th obligation.

Even more obvious, but again declared for the record: Love is the greatest thing in the world. It is without parallel. I believe that sincerely and without condition.

And that means that I got my wife some flowers (which I picked out myself, and even arranged in two vases personally--one of which is pictured above), and we went out to a nice restaurant on Sunday (when it's not crazy busy), and this morning I give her the card I bought a week and a half ago. Because I love her more than anything, and I know these acts will make her happy, I push aside any cynicism about the misappropriation of Valentine's Day and celebrate it in my way, not the way that Madison Avenue would like to believe it could convince me I need to.

It's also why I bought her flowers last week as well, just because I know she likes flowers. And why I'll get her flowers many more times throughout the days until next February 14th. But the flowers this time were special.

The only thing I love better than my wife in general is my wife when she's happy.


Obviously, were my wife someone whose attitude about Valentine's Day involved that stereotypical orgy of extravagance it's much less likely she'd be my wife; if you are a cynical sort who is with such a materialist… all I'll say is: good luck.

If you are the sort who genuinely wishes to bestow your beloved with gifts where the price tag will single-handedly revive the economy (and you can afford that): Eh, more power to you, I suppose (although I'd be lying if I said I didn't wonder if the cavalcade of presents is perhaps, on some level, compensating for something else).

And for those who'd just as soon forget it's Valentine's Day, I apologize for bringing it up, but remember: You don't need to observe it at all.


Ultimately, the problem with Valentine's Day is the exact same problem with Christmas: It lends itself way too well to exploitation by merchants and Madison Avenue in a way that can render meaningless gestures that are supposed to be meaningful, turning what should be done out of desire into something done out of obligation.

If one succumbs to that nonsense.

Of course, it's likely that no one outside of characters on poorly written sitcoms actually fits that stereotype. Frankly, I hope that's the case.


So, to wrap up that Valentine's stuff: Do whatever suits the fancy of you and your partner to celebrate the day—just make it the way you want to celebrate, not some hackneyed Hallmark fantasy.

Unless that's your thing.

1 comment:

  1. Nice valentine! I participate only because my darling wife would kill me if I didn't. And we did help kill some trees by buying cards. Tonight is pizza instead of dinner out with all the millions of other noodniks who are taking their partners out for dinner.


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