Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's So Funny?

Yesterday's love fest was strange as usual. I awoke happy that I'd remembered and was somewhat prepared for the day with a card and bonbons. I shoveled sidewalks and brushed off the vehicles so my husband would be able to leave for work unimpeded. I was even early for work for a change. It was a pretty good start.

I watched how everyone around me dealt with the day and kind of wondered how this all happened. The pampered and spoiled made sure to tell everyone verbally and electronically just how loving/loved they were while those without that privilege smiled politely and complimented them on their good fortune. It was somewhat lopsided. And I realized that generally the loved and happily hooked up can be blissfully unaware of the pain they inflict on the single. It's actually kind of mean. It's yet another one of those market manufactured celebrations that has the capacity to wound and maim. Just like Mother's Day, Halloween, and increasingly Easter.

The romantic connotations of Valentine's Day seem to have come about due to Chaucer's poem celebrating the engagement of a teenage king to his teenage queen to be. All he did was link Valentine's Day with the time of year the birds choose a mate. Which is kind of ridiculous, really. What birds are choosing mates in February? His calendar was totally different from the one we use today, obviously. There was no ode to Saint Valentine. He was simply fixing a setting for a cheesy poem that sounded romantic and wouldn't offend royalty. And some entrepreneurial genius (probably a florist or chocolatier) concocted a story about a Saint Valentine secretly marrying army sweethearts in violation of the mandatory celibacy hundreds of years after the fact. And now we have this huge retail fiasco where men and women rush around trying to find something to prove that they really do love their mate, because somehow if they don't the relationship is cosmically doomed. It's a colossal money grab.

In 2007 in the United States, Valentine's chocolate accounted for $14.4 billion in shipments from chocolate manufacturers. That's ridiculous. Granted, the Canadian debt is projected at $586 billion this year, but still. With a population of just under 35 million for the entire country this year, that's 400 valentine's chocolates per person in one day. Not likely.

I love my husband. I tell him often and show him every chance I can. I hope he believes that I love him. I don't happen to think obligatory flowers or candy can save a relationship. Sincere gestures of love and affection are never a bad thing, but letting the retail monster dictate relationship skills certainly could cause some long term issues. Love is holding hands - can't buy that one. Love is doing things the other person likes and learning to like it too. Love is taking turns cleaning up nocturnal barfing disasters. It's never a bad thing to remember how much you are loved and want to reciprocate, but I really resent being told via a manufactured occasion that I need to buy this or send that or my loved one will feel cheated and sidelined. It's obnoxious.

And it's kind of funny, really, because I adore chocolate. I could rhapsodize for hours about various chocolates and what's best for what occasion. I should embrace an excuse for chocolate whole-heartedly on the basis of that alone. But I can't. Being told when I should do something just makes me cranky. If it was perhaps Valentine's Week or month I might be able to get past the angst and enjoy it. I suppose I'm just not much of a joiner when it comes to dollar driven holidays. Oh my poor grandchildren. Whatever will they do? Maybe I'll mellow by then. Probably. Maybe I'll be just as gooey as everyone else buying a special something for everyone I can think of. It just bugs me. Enough said.