A Bit of Bah Humbug for Valentine’s Day
I hate to say it, but I’m joining the bandwagon of Valentine’s Day Haters, or Skeptics, or Grumps. Of course, I’m not skeptical enough to not celebrate it and not get something nice for Mrs. Campaign Spot. But year by year, I grow more convinced that it’s just a poorly conceived, poorly scheduled holiday.
What’s wrong with today? Well let’s see . . .
It’s Mean to Singles: I think David Frum offered a great thought on the holiday:
I’ve never liked the Valentine’s Day holiday. Our culture celebrates romantic love morning, noon, and night 364 days a year — and then sets aside one special day every February to rub the lovelesses’ noses in it. Not so nice. So: if you are lucky enough to have a sweetheart, of course you must kiss her (or him) today. But if you want to do a good deed, give a thought to the many lonely people around you: the divorced, the widowed, the unlucky — and maybe, if you have a spare dollar or two, you might want to send a small anonymous bouquet to one of them. Oh — and send it to the office, where everybody can see.
Romantic love is one of those things that we all like to have or would like to have, and we believe that anyone is capable of finding, but clearly some people have a very, very hard time finding that special someone. It’s not quite clear why this desired-but-hard-to-find aspect of life needs its own separate day to reinforce the sense of the haves and have-nots. I mean, you might as well have a holiday called “Money Day.”
“Hey, how did you celebrate Money Day?” “I bought a yacht. You?” “New Rolls.”
The pain of unrequited love and the intensity of that feeling around Valentine’s Day certainly gave Charles Schulz a lot to work with in his “Peanuts” cartoons, but beyond that, it stinks, doesn’t it? Did anybody out there not have at least one fairly miserable Valentine’s Day in your younger years, knowing that there was somebody out there you adored and who didn’t feel the same way about you? I’ll spare you the gruesome details of one of my worst and just give you the box score: one dozen long-stemmed roses ; unbeknownst to me and despite my best intelligence-gathering efforts, she was already going out with a guy. You’re a %*#$ sadist, Cupid.
The Awkward Celebration of Romantic Love for Children: We got the memo from my little guys’ schools and preschools — “if your child wishes to bring in Valentines, please bring one for everyone in the class.” One part of me salutes that — no need to formalize the inequities and subtle slights and hierarchy of grade school any more than the kids do already — and another part of me smells a whiff of the “everybody gets a trophy” mentality. The kids know who’s popular and who isn’t, who everyone has a crush on and who doesn’t. Getting a bunch of Valentines filled out by your friends’ moms just papers over what everybody knows.
The timing is weird. I don’t know about you, but the stretch between the Super Bowl and March Madness or Spring Training is just about the gloomiest part of the year. Anything positive associated with winter is long since spent. If you’re an area that gets snow, the novelty and fun is gone and you’re tired of shoveling. Everybody’s got colds or the flu or bronchitis. Going outside requires puffy coats that make you look like a sumo wrestler. The ice scraper for your car is cracked. The bills for the holiday spending are coming due. You’ve probably blown your New Year’s resolutions.
Perhaps that’s why February ends up with so many holidays that feel just tossed into it: Groundhog Day, President’s Day, National Organ Donor Day, Leap Day. It’s such a miserable time of year, everyone tries to distract themselves with extra holidays.
Anyway, in the middle of the least cheery time of year, we’re suddenly expected to be romantic and charming.
Never mind that the winter holidays of Christmas/Hanukkah/what have you were just six weeks ago. No, just in time to help out the nation’s retailers, here’s another big holiday where you have to get the love of your life something special! Sure, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but I suspect every guy knows, deep down, that their gal would like to be able to crow about the wonderful flowers or box of chocolates or jewelry or nice dinner out. Even if she’s not the type to brag to her girlfriends, you want her to have the option of bragging if she chooses, which means you have to give her something to brag about. (Now, if you’re in a relationship, you have an anniversary and a partner’s birthday, and lucky me, I get to have these in November and March, meaning I get FOUR major gift-giving occasions in a five-month span. It is very, very tough to come up with one good, original gift idea after another.)
Then there’s the fact that it’s on the 14th, no matter which day of the week that is, so you find yourself trying to schedule a romantic evening in the middle of the week. If there was ever a holiday to observe on a Friday or a Monday, isn’t this it?
Mind you, I can be a romantic guy. I like to have a selection of chocolates or a vase of flowers for Mrs. Campaign Spot when she gets home, but I like to do it on completely random days, or on days when I know she’s had a rough day. The surprise is one of the things that makes it so great. On Valentine’s Day, everybody knows or that something nice, albeit socially required, is coming.
What say we move Valentine’s Day to sometime in spring?