Okay, even though I poked fun at it yesterday, I have to admit that I kind of like Valentine’s Day. Still, I do acknowledge that many people have a problem with it, for valid reasons. They consider it to be a worthless holiday, and I can understand where they’re coming from. Valentine’s Day can be difficult for people who are lonely, or it can seem ridiculous to those who are disgusted by the commercialism. However, I look at it from a different perspective.
Back in 2004, I wrote an entry that pretty much sums it all up for me, so I’m going to re-post it here. (Minor modifications have been made.) *Warning: This could get mushy.
I once had a friend who referred to herself as "The Valentine Grinch." She said she resented the manipulations of florists and greeting card companies, and questioned the base, material instincts that the over-saturation of "hearts and flowers" might arouse in us, especially those of the female gender. Personally, I have no objection to setting a day aside to celebrate love. As the pace of our daily lives grows ever more hectic, I don't see anything wrong with having a special day to serve as a reminder to show our appreciation for those dear to our hearts.
Of course, in a perfect world, we would give and receive love and demonstrate our appreciation every single day, and, in some small way, many of us do. Parents work hard to make sure their families have what they need, and live as comfortably as possible. We offer an abundant supply of support and encouragement. Mothers (and in some alleged cases, fathers) mop floors, scrub bathroom fixtures, prepare meals and launder clothes. Even "tossing the ball" is a way of showing love. A child's love shines forth from his or her eyes, and is evident in his or her smile. Friends share confidences, laughter and tears. Lovers express their affection through a tender glance, a lingering kiss, a warm embrace, or a gentle caress. If we know where to look for love, chances are we will find it, in one form or another.
The Valentine Grinch asked if love is to be measured by how much money is spent, the karat count of the diamond, or the number of roses. Only for the very shallow would I say that is the case. Sure, I like to be the recipient of a box of chocolates, or a bouquet of flowers, but I don't need to be lavished with expensive gifts. Any small token will do. It really IS the thought that counts, or it SHOULD be, at any rate.
The Valentine Grinch also said, "Romance isn't love, romance is just… romance. It's an act. At its best it's probably sincere in the moment but it's not real." I respectfully beg to differ, and so, apparently, does Mr. Webster. The definition of romance is:
1. A love affair.
2. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; love.
I believe in romance, I really do. Granted, I don't know many couples who have been able to sustain the intensity of their love affair over the years (or, sadly, even preserve their relationship against the damaging effects of time), but I DO know SOME. Those successful long-term relationships are a source of inspiration and yes, even envy.
The Grinch is not the only one with a Valentine's Day axe to grind. According to this article, celebrating Valentine’s Day is banned in Saudi Arabia. I'm going to quote extensively from this article, which I found very interesting, and quite appalling.
"The prohibition on Valentine's Day is part of carrying out the strict and ascetic school of Islam the kingdom has followed and applied to daily life for 100 years.” Valentine's Day is considered one of the "religious innovations Islam doesn't sanction." Fine. I don't have a problem with that. The following, however, does bother me. A LOT.
"The feared muttawa, or religious police, ensure that everyone behaves... As Feb. 14 gets closer, the flush of red slowly fades. Every heart, every rose and every item that's red or that suggests love and romance descends underground, to the black market, where its price triples and quadruples. Entrepreneurs who take the risk of maintaining a red hue in their stores could end up spending days in jail.
In schools, students are sternly warned against marking the day or even wearing an item of clothing that's red, including ribbons or socks. Restaurants receive leaflets from the muttawa, ordering them not to light red-colored candles or decorate the tables with red roses, dim the lights or play any kind of music. Music is banned in public places. Flower shops are ordered not to carry red flowers of any kind - some have had their supply destroyed for disobeying."
Geez. Methinks thou doth protest too much.
In a column published last Valentine's Day, Dawood al Shirian, regional manager of the Saudi-owned, London-based Al Hayat daily newspaper, wrote "Saudi authorities don't have the right to deprive people of the color red that Allah has sanctioned, or prevent them from riding their red cars, wearing their red-checkered headdresses, eating delicious watermelons, enjoying the taste of red American apples, smelling red roses, because those things have nothing to do with the redness of hearts and love." On the other hand, I guess that means it's okay to deprive people of innocent expressions of love and romance... Go figure.
This Valentine's Day, I will not only be celebrating love, but I will be celebrating freedom, as well. I will wear my red sweater, enjoy my beautiful bouquet of roses, sample treats from my box of sweets, and give my daughters and husband little tokens of my love (chocolate, of course).