Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Harebrained Holiday

Last Saturday, as my husband and I entered the grocery store, I was overwhelmed by the attack of red and pink – red and pink balloons, red heart boxes full of chocolates, pink cupcakes, red heart-shaped cookies and cakes, red and pink roses, wrapped in red and pink tissue paper with red and pink ribbons. I just about puked! As we walked past, I told Gene that under no circumstances was he to buy me anything for Valentine’s Day – no flowers, no chocolates, no cakes or cookies, not even a card. I know Gene loves me. He shows me every day. I don’t need anything red or pink on Valentine’s Day for him to prove it.

This year, for some reason, I am appalled by the commercialism of Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it’s because our country is still in economic turmoil. Maybe it’s because most anything I spend my dollars on costs so much more. (Do you remember when we all thought $2.00/gallon for gasoline was highway robbery?)

The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association estimated that U.S. consumers spent approximately $15.7 billion on Valentine’s Day. Are you kidding me?!

The annual Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey revealed what consumers intended to spend all that money on:

52.1% - Cards
47.5% - Candy
34.6% - Evening Out
34.3% - Flowers
17.3% - Jewelry
14.4% - Clothing
12.6% - Gift Cards
11.2% - Other Gifts

Valentine’s Day was originally called Saint Valentine’s Day, named after one of the early martyrs of the Catholic Church, Saint Valentine, and had nothing to do with romantic love. The holiday was established in 496 AD by Pope Gelasius.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI had the feasting holiday removed from the Roman calendar of saints, and said, "Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14."

We can blame the romantic association with Valentine’s Day on Geoffrey Chaucer, who in 1392 wrote a poem for King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia on the first anniversary of their engagement. It was entitled, Parlement of Foules, and began:

"For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese is make."

Translated: “For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

I’d just like to stress once again that we don’t need a special holiday to celebrate the romantic love we have for our mate or partner. The most romantic thing we can do is to determine how our mate feels most loved - physical touch, gift giving, words of affirmation, quality time or acts of service (Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman) – and do something loving for that special person each day.

What did I do lately for Gene? I cleaned the house Saturday, and delivered a banana to his office this morning because he was feeling sluggish. (I thought the potassium might do him good.) Gene feels loved through acts of service.

What romantic thing did Gene do for me recently? He heard the song, “At Last” by Etta James, being piped in at Bed Bath & Beyond while we were shopping there Saturday. He surprised me while I was looking at the sheets on sale and began dancing with me and singing to me. I feel loved through physical touch and words of affirmation. I can assure you my heart was a melted loving puddle on the floor.

And, what about those who don’t have a special somebody in their lives?! How must they feel on this exclusionary, harebrained holiday? One of my friends at church has renamed Valentine’s Day to “Single Awareness Day”.

I vow no more frivolous Valentine’s Day spending for me or my husband!!

Share the Love Every Day, Y’all!

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