Tuesday, February 14, 2012

But wait--I have one last rant in me!

I am coming out of retirement today because I have something to say:  Happy Valentine's Day! 

Okay, yes, I am actually going to say more than that :) 

I hear and read a whole heck of a lot of complaining about Valentine's Day being fake and being commercially overproduced.  And frankly, I'm kinda tired of hearing about it.

People sanctimoniously go on and on about how insincere it is to show your love to the people in your life on one Hallmark kind of day.  I disagree with that charge.  I will agree that we live in the most commercial nation in the history of forever and any business wanting to capitalize on the potential river of money that will pour into their hands will unapologetically join the hype.  But I disagree that the sentiment behind most people's celebrating of V Day is artificial.

Why is it disingenuous to set aside a special day to remind your partner or child or parent or friend that you love them?  We have a few examples in our culture of choosing specific days for which to celebrate other important ideas, so why not for love and devotion?

  • Every November we set aside a special day to be thankful for all that we have.  Are we unthankful the rest of the year?  No, of course not.  But taking time aside from our normal lives to think about it, appreciate it and share it with our families is good reminder and a renewal of our commitment to be thankful during the regular days. 
  • Every December we set aside another day.  For those of us with religious persuasion it's to celebrate the glory of the birth of our Saviour.  You can't tell me that just because I choose to observe Christmas it means I don't care about the fact that our Saviour humbled himself to live in a mortal body like the rest of us on the other 364 days.
  • I can't speak for non-religious people as to their reasons to have Christmas festivities, but I suspect it's a season for family and joy and care.  Again, I'm pretty sure there's joy and care the rest of the year, but the annual symbolic reminder is a lovely time to gather and make peace and gain perspective. 
  • Easter, for the Christian world, is the time to rejoice in the miracle of the Lord rising from the dead.  For the secular world, it's a day of rejoicing in the energy and beauty of Spring and a new year.  Yes, Easter is also a little overly hyped with the candy and pastel everything, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
  • We commemorate each other's birthdays.  Do we not care for each other every other day of the year?
  • As a nation we make a pretty big to-do on July 4th.  I would argue there are millions and millions of Americans who are thankful on more than just one fleeting day for the freedoms we enjoy and appreciate the fact that people laid down their lives for their belief that we, as humans, are entitled to those freedoms.  It's a sentiment deeper than a summer BBQ.
  • First day of school, anyone?  There are 180 days of school for our kids but especially on that first day we take pictures, have fresh haircuts, new clothes, the latest in lunchboxes.  It doesn't downgrade the rest of the school year just because we so honor the first day. 
  • In some parts of the country the first day of Boating Season is a *huge* deal, but we still enjoy boating during the rest of the summer.  There's Kentucky Derby Day, but people love horse racing all season long--not just on that one day.  There's Groundhog Day, for goodness sake, and nobody complains about that! (Well, okay, I admit that I actually *do* complain about Groundhog Day, but I'm like the only person in the Western Hemisphere who does.) 
  • And the big daddy of celebration days?  How about funerals.  It's not that we didn't love or care about the deceased while they were here, but we set aside a day after their passing to pay respect to everything we knew and felt and loved about them.   It's not fake or forced just because a funeral parlor, a florist and a caterer are making a buck on the proceedings. 
Every culture since time immemorial has had days of celebration to bring into sharp focus things that we do or have or appreciate every single day.  St. Valentine's Day is one in a long line of those days. 

So to all of you anti-Valentiners, I say this:  Don't be a hater. 

And happy Valentine's Day :)