There is an inherent contradiction built into Valentine’s Day. As Karl Marx might have said, it “contains the seeds of its own destruction.” Let me say at the outset – before going any further – that I don’t see this as a negative thing. Anything that wakes us up a little, that makes us think about the meanings behind our rites and rituals, is a good thing.
This evening I spent Valentine’s Day with the person I most wanted to spend it with. We went to the theatre – we chose something pointedly anti-romantic, as has been our practice for years – and we had a hell of a good time.
The contradiction behind Valentine’s Day comes down to the question: “Why do we need a special day – just one out of 365 – to celebrate our love for each other?” I do understand that the people at the Hallmark Card company need to eat. For them, and for those in their trade, this is simply business. The trick is to get lots of people into a frenzy, making them think that if they do not give that long-stemmed rose, cook that dinner, do that special something on Valentine’s Day, then their love is not true. I would like to point out, hopefully without offending anybody, that when we discuss such things, we are not really talking about love – we are talking about commerce.
I am all for anything that boosts the economy, particularly in these fiscally bleak times. But I would like to humbly suggest that there are deeper truths here. We are human, and we need to feel a connection with each other. We need to love, and we need to be loved. Why single out only one day of the year for this important aspect of our lives?
Think about the things you plan for Valentine’s Day – the home-cooked dinner, the flowers, the perfect little surprise gift wrapped in shiny gold paper. Why attach those things to a single day? Why not make them the very fabric of your daily life? You have nothing to lose, fellow humans, but your cynicism.
I resolved at some point to treat every day as Valentine’s Day. I wake up in the morning, think of the person I love, and I say to myself “Now what cool new surprise can I cook up today to celebrate the way I feel about this?”
And so for me, yes, Valentine’s Day is a bit of a joke – the notion that all these people suddenly wake up for one day and think they have 24 hours to express their love for each other. And it is the strangeness of that notion which reminds me that every day is Valentine’s Day. If you love somebody, with all your heart and soul, don’t hold back, don’t wait. Give them the crazy little gift today – whatever day of the year it may be – cook them that home-cooked dinner, put your soul on the line for them.
You won’t be sorry.