It’s coming. Some love it. Some hate it. Some are completely ambivalent about it. It produces emotional responses ranging from high anxiety to outright giddiness. Greeting card suppliers, jewelers, lingerie outlets, chocolatiers and florists from sea to shining sea are gearing up for it like an invading fleet of Cupids closing in on the coast. You can fight it, you can blow it off, but you’re not going to stop it. It’s coming. Sound the ‘Red Alert’ as that one day of the year especially devoted to romance and matters of the heart is drawing neigh: St. Valentine’s Day.
Almost no one can tell you the actual basis for why the day is celebrated with any degree of certainty, but that’s okay. While there are all sorts of myths and legends with varying degrees of plausibility, the ambiguity behind the alleged origins just makes it easier to attach any convenient meaning. It’s probably somewhat intentional that it evolved that way–and fairly certain that it was molded for entrepreneurial purposes (at least in the U.S.) by an enterprising woman named Ester Howland in the 1800s. Accordingly, many see it as an ultimate ploy in marketing and consumer manipulation, second only to the commercialization of Christmas. Boiling it down to its lowest common denominator these days–a designated time for expressing love and affection–it hardly seems that anyone could rationally argue against it regardless of how it got started, but therein lies the proverbial sticky wicket: Shouldn’t that happen every day? Why wait for one, dictated day each year specifically for expressing affection? Hmm.
Yes, yes, the notion of making an annual hubbub out of it does serve the supposed purpose of ensuring that we do at least take some time out of our busy-bee lives to show our significant others that we care, but even that tends to create more friction than it solves–especially when it comes to placing a monetary value on determining ‘how much’ we care. Last year, CNN reported that the average person’s Valentine’s spend was estimated at about $130. What do you want to bet that somewhere, someone spent about fifty bucks and got hammered for being ‘below average’? Of course, it’s probably equally so that someone who spent over $200 got bonus love-points for demonstrating ‘above average’ caring. Ah yes. Love and capitalism. What a combo!
Supposedly, it’s the thought that should count most and no price can be put on sincere affection. We have nothing against celebrating the day, but the sentiment behind it certainly shouldn’t be reserved for just once a year. Ultimately, the real value is not in what’s bought, but rather in what’s done–every day–to show genuine love. True caring doesn’t cost a dime. Just something to think about.