Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day - Commercial Crap or Day of Love

As Valentine's Day came and went, I found it really interesting to hear people's approach to the holiday.  There was the grumbling about school parties with excessive food, goody bags, decorations and more!  I talked a little bit about my own issues with the school party thing in my Recycled Valentine's Post. My issues center mostly around the waste involved in school parties as well as the junk food, but I've heard parents go so far as to say that the parties are a total waste of time that should be spent on education. Meanwhile, I've heard other parents recoil telling me how they were out buying all the pieces for the goody bags (seriously, schools give goody bags for Valentine's Day?  Guess I don't have it so bad) and baking eighty pink heart cupcakes. These parents get frustrated with those of us that are total party-poopers, because they love this stuff.  Others find themselves somewhere between the two extremes.

In the same way, I saw the same continuum with couples. In my facebook feed, I saw all sorts of pictures of dozens of roses and boxes of candy. I read about people on fabulous dates or giving presents that cost more than we spend on groceries in a month. And, I heard those people who choose to decide this day is like any other, and I heard the complaints of the commercialization and cheesiness of it all.  There was the ever popular question, "Why do we need a special day to tell the people we love that we love them?" Of course we should do that every day.
The love of my life: Not many men will help a woman 32 weeks pregnant climb a tree just because she wanted.

I used to be really good at joining the cynical masses.  Combine it with my desire to reduce commercialism in my home and my family's carbon footprint, and I am fully set up to despise and ignore Valentine's Day.  I remember many years I protested the day dressing all in black as if mourning the commercial disaster of our culture.  But, it's that question that gets me. Why do we need a special day to tell people we love them? Should the people we love know it every day?  Absolutely.  Should we go on dates our significant other just because and shower them in romance (if that's what they want)?  Absolutely.  Should we go out of our way to make every day special, filled with love in big and small ways for the whole family?  Absolutely.  But do we?

Our circle of love.

I don't know about you, but for us life is crazy. We stumble through our days sometimes for weeks on end, barely getting dishes off the table before it's bedtime and often feeling five steps behind.  We work to simplify our lives and minimize this, but it still happens. We get wrapped up in our kids and don't give our marriage the attention it deserves. Or sometimes, we get wrapped up in our jobs or commitments and don't give our children the attention they deserve. My husband and I work to pull ourselves back from the chaos and re-focus on a regular basis. It's not easy, and for the first time in a long time, I can see Valentine's Day as one more opportunity to re-focus and pull myself back to what matters. I see Valentine's Day as a time to make my kids smile with heart shaped pancakes. Could I do it any other day? Yes. But I don't. Sometimes we just need the little push to do things that make our families feel how special they are.  If Valentine's Day is what it takes to remind my husband and I that we need and deserve a date night, then I'll take it!  If Valentine's Day is the thing that can pull us out of the chaos and remind us to tell each other why we love them, even if it's just that my husband loves how excited I am that I learned to make pie crust, I'll take it.

We didn't do anything too special for Valentine's Day. I did make heart shaped pancakes, and I bought the kids a Yoga DVD I'd be planning on buying them anyway. We did yoga together as a family before bed, and I watched a movie by myself because my husband fell asleep putting the kids to bed. But there were a few extra hugs, a few extra I-love-you, and a few extra reminders of how much we care for each other in our day. And I can't complain about that, ever.

I think this is true for so many of our holidays or traditions.  New Year's resolutions are a great example.  Many people scoff at them because of the commercialism and the populations overwhelming inability to keep those resolutions.  The cynics wear it like a badge of honor telling everyone that they don't make resolutions with the air of disgust aimed at those of us mindless followers who do. But, I can see New Year's as a time to evaluate how the last year went and set some great goals and focus for the year to come. It's a natural break in the timeline for me, and I love evaluating my goals and setting new ones. This all feels funny coming from me, someone who is as cynical and sarcastic as the best, or maybe it's the worst, of them. But I am beginning to feel like this whole hatred for the holidays is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  I ignore the commercialism of so much of everyday life so why not do the same with holidays, drawing from them what is useful to me, making fun memories with my kids and continually re-focusing myself and my family on what's important to us. 

I can complain about the commercialization of, well, everything ,and the ridiculous ways people distort holidays, but I refuse to throw the whole thing out.  Just because some people take something to extremes and lose focus of what I want to focus on doesn't mean that the holiday is stupid or worthless. Sure, maybe we shouldn't need a holiday to remind us to love each other, but I do, so instead of using it as a reason to embrace my bitter and jaded self, I'm taking the reminder and trying to soften my perspective just a little.

Now, on to St. Patrick's Day?

1 comment:

  1. V-day gave us an excuse to spend money on ourselves with a wonderful date-night dinner. I'm all for any holiday that does that!


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