By Jason Menard
So legend has it that Valentine, the patron saint of love, was put to death following an imprisonment – seems like the appropriate holiday for us married types, right? Rimshot! I’ll be here all week, please tip your server on the way out.
But, in all seriousness, what does this holiday really mean? What brought this to the fore was a conversation I had with my wife a couple of weeks ago. When I asked her if she had anything in particular she wanted to do to celebrate, she replied, ‘Whatever, I don’t really care. It’s just a fake holiday perpetuated by Hallmark to make money.’
Obviously I was taken aback! Was this not the echoing of similar sentiments that I’ve been expressing for years? Hearing it come back to me in this way, though, gave me pause to wonder if I’ve had the whole thing wrong all this time and I haven’t been focussing on the right thing.
First off, I don’t want you to think I’m a horrible husband because of my issues with Valentine’s Day. I have always taken my wife out on Valentine’s Day and we’ve had many wonderful times together. But I, like many of you out there reading this, have railed endlessly against the crass commercialization of Valentine’s Day.
What bothers me is that Valentine’s Day too often is looked at as a panacea to absolve us of our romantic sins! We’re bombarded with this message: Show her that you love her (on this day!) by buying her flowers, jewellery, candy… It’s too much pressure for just one day. The underlying message is that you’ve been a selfish boor all year, make up for now with a gift! So think about that guys, what does that say about you if you don’t do something special for Valentine’s Day? The pressure!
My issue with this thought – and why I’ve looked at Valentine’s Day with a mix of dread and contempt – is that I don’t believe that there’s only one day that I should make my wife feel special – every day should be like that! Now, I’m not the model husband by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to do my best – the whole year! My efforts have been met with varying degrees of success, but I honestly believe I’m doing my best to show my wife how much I truly care for her. But still, I know the overwhelming guilt I would feel if I didn’t do anything on Valentine’s Day – and that’s not right.
And now we’re starting even younger. The pressure to conform and perform is starting in our elementary schools – albeit only with the best intentions in mind. Although we all know about where the path of good intentions leads.
In my son’s fourth-grade class they’ve been told to either bring enough Valentine’s for everyone or bring none at all. Talk about preparing them for disappointment down the road.
When I was younger it was almost a survival of the fittest. You chose to whom you gave Valentine’s and they actually meant something. Some years you got more, some years you got less, but at least they were genuine. The idea now is that everyone feels included, but what it actually does is give false hope to a number of kids.
Valentine’s cards were a microcosm of society as a whole. In fact, they were a great training ground to help deal with the harsh realities of life. The fact is that the majority of people in the world don’t care about you and some outright dislike you. But if you’re lucky enough to find someone who truly cares about you and wants to be your Valentine, then you’ve received the greatest gift of all. That’s a Valentine to cherish every day of your life – not just on February 14 th.
Like many things in life, my thoughts on Valentine’s Day are not so black and white any more – they’re more a shade of grey (or red as the case may be). It’s not the day itself that I have an issue with – it’s how we focus on this day, and this day alone, to show how much we care. So while I’ll go along with the crowd on Saturday night, I’ll know in my heart that this is just one day of many in the years to come where I should show my wife how special she is to me!
Valentine’s Day should be no more special than any other day. But instead of devaluing the meaning of February 14 th, we should be raising the bar on every other day of the year. I know it’s the least I can do for my one true Valentine.
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