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Redefining Valentining

Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day-the day which supposedly celebrates romance, and love and cupid’s delights–is a scam. February 14 – an arbitrary date – has morphed from a debatable legend about Saint Valentine’s martyrdom into a gluttonous, competitive, commercialized day … Read More

By / February 11, 2009

Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day-the day which supposedly celebrates romance, and love and cupid’s delights–is a scam.

February 14 – an arbitrary date – has morphed from a debatable legend about Saint Valentine’s martyrdom into a gluttonous, competitive, commercialized day whose focus has nothing to do with true romance. Rather, V-Day promotes the purchase of an image: of fancy chocolates, overpriced roses, silly teddy bears, mylar balloon, and "special" dinners.

Silly may it be, like everything American and commercial, the "holiday’s" (and I use that term lightly) potency is tangible. There’s been "backlash" by singles–those who feel empowered by their own singledom, and party promoters looking to capitalize off of other people’s manufactured loneliness to throw bashes and bar crawls. And apparently, according to some skilled googling, the day has also become SAD-Singles Awareness Day. As if, as a single person, you weren’t aware of this every other day of the year.

Now personally–and I like chocolate, teddy bears and flowers–I’ve always been confused by the "holiday." On the one hand, while my nieces send me little love notes, and offices have secret valentines, Victoria’s Secret also showcases a ridiculous number of red and heart-printed borderline-skanky lingerie for the holiday.

Valentine’s Day, to me, just doesn’t jive. In fact, it sorta gives me the heebie jeebies.

Truth is, I’ve been "lucky," by conventional standards. Guys that I’ve dated have bought into the scam. They’ve always gone, even if just a little, out of their way to recognize the day (and no, I don’t think less of them. I just feel bad).

But over time, and the more I see the classic red-heart shape exploited, the more irritated I’ve become by people even asking what I did/will do/am doing for "Valentine’s Day." If I have no answer, does it thereby suggest that someone didn’t love me enough? care enough?

Feh, I say.

So this year, the year of the recession, the year of change, of hope and of progress, I say we forget about the truffles, and the romantic comedies, and the teddies (for the body and the bed). I say we forego the sappiness of Valentine’s Day and instead, focus on the sapling, the nubile, supple little trees.

On February 9 this year, in Jew-land we celebrated Tu B’shvat-the New Year for the Trees, a holiday not about manufactured love. Rather, it is a holiday about new life, new spirit and new potential. Tu B’shvat is about watching a new tree extend its branches, its roots settle and seeing it grow to bear fruit.

Sounds way, way, way more romantic than eating fatty foods, spending on cheap teddy bears made in China, and feeling badly that someone didn’t do x,y or z.

And in that romantic spirit-whether singled or coupled-to warm our real hearts, I say we take action against the fake red ones and do something green, something good.

Instead of a getting a teddy bear, save a kitty from the pound; instead of spending hundreds of dollars on dinner, volunteer at a soup kitchen; instead of traveling on a romantic vacation, take a winter walk, run, or bike ride-anything without a car or plane. Instead of buying chocolate, get some arugula and squash at the local farmer’s market. After all, nothing says "I Love You" like a good butternut.

Romance and celebrations of feelings should, in no way, be overlooked. In fact, they should be embraced (and not on national TV or Facebook alone).

But maybe it’s time to redefine our thinking, to overhaul the system, to embrace our singledom-or coupledom-and to seek out newness. And, in the spirit of Tu’Bshvat–or this month–plant some new seeds.

This February, instead of killing flowers, I say create life instead.

…And save the fancy dinners, presents and flowers for every other month. :)

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