After the thrill of yet another holiday with candy wore off, I got jaded about Valentine’s Day. My high school self saw through the crass consumerism, in which Corporations like Hallmark and Nabisco try to convince us to buy big heart-shaped pink bears holding balloons filled with caramel. As someone who didn’t want the Man telling him what to do, man, I wanted no part in that.
Of course, usually behind these gripes about Valentine’s Day in general was (surprise!) angst about girls. I think I really decided I hated Valentine’s Day during my freshman year of high school, when I bought a necklace for that special someone, only to learn that she had in fact started dating someone else several weeks ago but had forgotten to mention it to me. That sort of information will wilt one’s carnations pretty dang quick.
Speaking of terrible metaphors related to Valentine’s Day, a taste of my angst can be heard in the hilariously bad song I wrote senior year of high school, in which I asserted, Holden Caulfield-style, that all people were phonies and Valentine’s Day was a bunch of useless glitz that just serves to “distract… us all from the pain.” It sounds like Elliott Smith meets “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins, if Elliott Smith and Mary Poppins were fricking terrible.
Fortunately for people who have to interact with me, I’ve since mellowed out. I’m not saying that everyone who has beef with Valentine’s Day is as immature as I was; there are still legitimate problems with the holiday. It toes the line between sweet and saccharin (sometimes hopping over that line like a kangaroo on steroids), it’s another example of our culture idealizing romantic love (generally exclusively the hetero variety) over friendship, and the color scheme that stores embrace as a result of the holiday is nauseating.
But I wish I could talk to high school freshman Jesse and assure him that people do not enter relationships just to make him feel like crap. Healthy romantic relationships are enriching and exhilarating, and I’m glad there is a day to celebrate them. It’s easy to take the good things in life for granted, and if it takes a gooey Hallmark card to live in the present, then gooey Hallmark cards it is.
Actually, scratch that. There’s no reason whatsoever for gooey Hallmark cards; at the very least, make your own or print out this or this. Fortunately, since Valentine Day’s plans are considered very private, you (along with your partner, if you happen to have one) can customize the holiday as you see fit. There are still societal expectations, to be dang sure, but you can generally break them with no one being the wiser. Better still, you can be bold* about deviating from A Dozen Red Roses, with the hope of breaking down cultural stereotypes with your shining examples. With that in mind, I will say that Beth and I watched a StarCraft II tournament and Friday Night Lights on Valentine’s Day.
And it was the happiest day.