It’s Valentine’s Day, today. As if anyone needs to be reminded. One can’t step inside a store without being hit with the colors pink, red, and white. I think there are two things I appreciate about Valentine’s Day. Those would be that it’s only one day, 24 hours, and then all that chocolate goes on sale. Chocolate remains chocolate no matter the color it is wrapped inside of.
You may have already guessed it. I’m not a fan. I try very hard to not even think about the day itself. So why am I writing about it? Maybe because I’ve kept silent all of these years and have realized that avoidance only means that I get hit twice as hard every year when I can’t sidestep the inevitable.
And before anyone says it, this is not sour grapes from a little old lady who finds herself alone. I am quite content with my lot because I myself have chosen it. That is not to say I don’t enjoy some companionship, I do. But, I have to admit, that with each year that goes by, the standards go up, not down. I have a great deal to offer and expect reciprocal dividends. That could be defined as choosy, and I would have to agree. Why waste my time and effort on being bored or worse?
So, if its not sour grapes, what is it about this day that rankles? The first thing that comes to mind is that anyone who needs a specific day to remember the one, or ones, that they love, might be better off seeking out a different definition for that word. One that includes the ideas of constancy, continuity, and enduring over time. One that also includes the idea that the love alone is the only gift that really counts or has any meaning. And although the candy, flowers, and jewelry are nice, if one needs them to know that one is loved, one is in deep do-do.
Another reason for my out of season bah-humbug attitude is the expectations such a day creates, and often deflates, leaving in their stead self-doubts and tons of depression and insecurity. I would wager to guess that more individuals are made inescapably aware of their loneliness by this day, than its opposite promises, even though we all understand that this is commercialism at its extreme.
Last week, I went shopping with my sister. Of course, we had to walk through the aisles, strategically placed I might add, filled to overflowing with red cellophane, heart shaped boxes, and pink teddy bears. I found myself telling my sister that the really and truly best shopping day of the year is the one after Valentine’s Day when all that chocolate goes down to half price or less. That got me a side glance that spoke volumes.
I’m pretty sure her thoughts were along the lines of the sour grapes I mentioned above. What she doesn’t know perhaps, is that although I was married for twenty years, I seldom received gifts or cards on that one day a year when I should have rightfully expected to. What’s more, the occasional ones I did receive were obviously hasty last minute grabs that had nothing to do with the person I was and am. The cards were always oversized and included awful syrupy poetry that had nothing to do with the real life we were living and never included even one apology for the physical and emotional abuse that became a routine experience within that life.
What’s more, if I did receive a box of chocolates, they weren’t the kind I really prefer and usually came with a direct quote, “If you can possibly keep it down to one a day, you shouldn’t gain too much more weight.” Ah, love. And he actually thought that was what he was displaying. He is extremely fortunate that I was more concerned with being gracious back then, than in letting him wear his ‘love’ for all the world to see. That certainly wouldn’t occur now.
I guess what I am trying to say is that if love is not given on a regular basis, why make it a one day affair? Doesn’t that make love nothing more than an obligation, or worse, a joke? I would have much preferred an eagerness to sit down and quietly converse, actually speaking of the things and feelings that were important to both, or either of us. I would have much preferred a helping hand in the kitchen or with the kids rather than the judgments of how poorly I was doing as a wife, mother, and human being.
And yes, I know that all these things have been said before. Probably by far more women then men. Yet, every year, I find that I must face this 24 hours and am tired of being silent about it. What it does to people who yearn for even one person to remember them on this day, and we all yearn for that. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of dithering about which one of the teddy bears is the ‘right’ one, several people purchased five of them and then sent them randomly to unknown names found in the phone book?
That kind of gift, without rhyme or reason, could go a long way toward making a better world. A happier, and perhaps more loving one. As it is, tomorrow will be the biggest sale of the year on chocolate. That’s something to look forward to. What’s more, I’ll know exactly who purchased it, for what reason, and why she gave it to me.