Valentine’s Day always makes me a little uneasy. I’m all for love, and for appreciating the people we love, but Valentine’s Day focuses the celebration on one aspect of adult(ish) relationships–the bonded or bonding-in-progress romance.
For some who’ve lost a spouse, I imagine this day is the hardest of the year. For people recently dumped from a long-term relationship, Valentine’s Day is also no fun. For school children, I wonder if it’s still the same puzzling exercise it was for me.
Each child at Our Lady of Perpetual Anxiety (I’m Catholicizing here) was required to walk up and down the rows of desks and leave a Valentine on the desk of every other child in the class. Our moms had to buy the packets of ready-made Valentines, and we stayed up the night before addressing the cards. Some of the Valentines I received were thus from children who refused to allow me to sit at their lunch tables and referred to me as “it.”
Happy Valentine’s Day?
Why, from elementary school on up, do we give this one aspect of some people’s social life a Hallmark nod? Intimate relationships can help us become our best selves (somebody should write a book about that), but intimate relationships can also be lethal, toxic, financially disastrous… Half of all marriages are still ending in divorce, and many of those not ending are miserable.
What is this holiday trying to say?
What does making an international occasion of Valentine’s Day say to a lonely heart? To the one in four women (and one in ten men) experiencing intimate partner violence? I dunno, friends… I would gladly give you back Valentine’s Day for some universal family/personal wellness leave. I’d give you back Valentine’s Day for a drop in domestic violence statistics. I’d give you back Valentine’s Day for a commitment across the chocolate industry to use sustainably sourced, fair trade cocoa.
But then I took a look at this page from the National Retail Federation, where (scroll down) it breaks down the estimated $22 billion Americans will spend on Valentine’s Day into categories. Only half that sum is likely to be spent on partners. The rest is spread over friends, relatives, pets (about $1.3 billion!), co-workers, and others. I’d still like to see the name of the day changed, maybe to Care About Each Other Day, but it appears we’re prying the holiday free of its historical pair-bonded roots, and I hope that’s a good thing.
Where does Valentine’s Day leave you? Is there a holiday you’d like to see added? A time of year that needs another day off? I’m in the process of drafting a Christmas novella for the Rogues to Riches series. One commenter will get to name the Viking kitten who has taken up residence in Pietr Sorensen’s vicarage. We can’t use Loki, because Nathaniel Rothmere’s horse has that moniker…