I have concerns about the holiday known as Valentine’s Day. Dedicating an annual day to the idea of love is not a bad thing. But Valentine’s Day, as it is practiced in our culture, is not equivalent to celebrating love.
Love comes in many forms. We can love family, friends, animals, and the whole world. But Valentine’s Day skews toward one particular kind of love: love for a significant other.
This is a problem, because not everyone has a significant other. Some people want a significant other but don’t have one. Other people don’t want a significant other. So this is a holiday that, by design, leaves some people out. That makes me feel something very different from love: it makes me sad.
Another problem is that people are expected, in our culture, to behave in certain ways on Valentine’s Day. Anyone who falls outside of that expectation is considered immoral, or at least horribly uncouth.
For example, on the radio this morning, the DJ was soliciting callers who might tell her their “worst Valentine’s gift ever.” She gave, as an example, her own “worst Valentine’s gift ever.” This turned out to be a single rose and a chocolate bar from a gas station, given to her by her husband.
I felt sadness (i.e., not love!) upon hearing this story. What’s wrong with a single rose and a chocolate bar from a gas station? It’s not as if he gave her a can of gasoline and told her to drink it. I fundamentally don’t understand. What was she expecting? A dozen roses and a fancy box of chocolates from an upscale store, probably.
But whether he went to a gas station or an upscale store, whether he spent $10 or $100, to me is completely irrelevant. What’s relevant, to me, is: Does he love her? Did the gift come from the heart? Does she love him? Did she thank him for the gift or give him something in return?
Love is not the same thing as money. Why is that such a hard concept to understand?
I feel that Valentine’s Day actually inhibits people from being able to give from the heart. There are just too many expectations. How can you give something from the heart, when all of society’s messages are incessantly blaring, “FLOWERS AND CHOCOLATE, MAN GIVES TO WOMAN, THE PRICIER THE BETTER, THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF LOVE”?
In my (humble of course!) opinion, it’s better to have an open conversation with your loved one, before the holiday. Talk about the above issues. Then, choose your own unique way of celebrating, or not celebrating: whatever is most meaningful to the two of you.
And don’t let society tell you that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t have a significant other on Valentine’s Day. If that’s the case, make a plan to do something with a friend, or for yourself, on that day, if you think you might be sad otherwise.
And definitely don’t let society tell you that you must buy, buy, buy, or receive, receive, receive, on Valentine’s Day in order to be a good person.
Love is bigger than that.
Love is better than that.
How do you love?