Tomorrow is February 14. Valentine’s Day. The Feat of St. Valentine. The day before the peanut butter hearts go on sale and the peanut butter Easter eggs get more expensive. I’m using so many different phrases to say the same thing because I know this is going to be a short article anyway and I can get away with it.
But why does it matter? It matters because Valentine’s Day takes a lot of crap. At one point in my life when I was more convinced that being a contrarian is almost as good as being organically interesting, this post would have been filled to the brim with “Valentine’s Day is a ploy by Hallmark and Russell Stover’s to sell overpriced, irresponsibly sourced greeting cards and bland chocolate.” But not anymore. Do I still kind of think that about Valentine’s Day? You betcha.
But is it worth saying? Absolutely not. Over the past several years I have really come to embrace the simple notion of “live and let live.” It’s fantastic. Once you realize how little the opinions of others should affect your happiness and self-confidence, it’s easy to listen to someone, disagree with it, but not have any lost value in your interpersonal relationship with them.
That’s not to say you need to have a stellar relationship with someone to believe in live and let live. If some rando off the street comes up to you and says, “Valentine’s Day is the best holiday ever!” You can listen to them, disagree with them, and then just go about your day. Sure, there wasn’t much of an existing personal relationship to be diminished, but still, you didn’t let it affect you or the small interpersonal relationship you had with that rando, and that’s the real lesson.
Plus, on occasion, Valentine’s Day gives us some fun little life moments. Paying $4.99 for what is essentially a king-sized Reese’s, walking through a parking lot and seeing a Kia Sorento with a bunch of heart balloons tied to a side mirror, seeing restaurants crowded with couples and bars crowded with singles and cooler couples. Plus, you get the awkward race through a pharmacy for some last minute shopping.
But really, the lesson here is live and let live. The whole Valentine’s-Day-has-become-too-corporate-and-isn’t-a-real-holiday vibe could be thrown at a lot of other holidays. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t a big deal in Ireland but it is here because Budweiser “discovered” green dye and any idiot whose name begins with Mc, Mac, O’, or ends with -ennigan or -manus or -malley can go to Walgreens and by a cheap green top hat. Halloween used to be a somber Catholic feast day but is now where kids go to take candy from strangers while their parents put Jack Daniels in a Yeti cup and walk around the neighborhood. Even Christmas, though still obviously steeped in religion and broader culture, is pretty synthetic considering it’s very unlikely that Jesus was actually born in December.
It doesn’t matter though. Holidays mean whatever they mean to those who celebrate them. And celebrating a holiday, whether dictated by our corporate overlords or stemming from a place of sincere religiosity, shouldn’t be a reason for conflict. I don’t like Valentine’s Day, my wife doesn’t like Valentine’s Day, but we don’t judge people who do. It’s a great system. We get to day drink and hang out in sweatpants, and those who celebrate get to get proposed to and rifle through a double-decker thing of chocolates. It’s win-win, really.
So I say bah, humbug, but also Happy Valentine’s Day.