This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Quit Squawking About Valentine’s Day: A Postcard to the Outraged

Bitching about Valentine's day:  an art form since 1849.There was a time (back in the early fourteenth century) when I used to “protest” Valentine’s Day by wearing the most funereal black I could find in my mom’s closet. Most of my teenage years were embarrassingly boyfriendless, so naturally, I spent the day annoying the hell out of countless people with an umpteen-millionth account of who the real, historical St. Valentine was, and condescending banter about how stupid Valentine’s Day is. I thought it was very clever, edgy and original of me. But there came a point when I stopped doing that. You know why? Because I grew the hell up.

Smug complaining about Valentine’s Day is just as ubiquitous, superficial and mass-produced as teddy bears, polyester hearts, and low-quality chocolates. And just as silly. Like any holiday, Valentine’s Day is a publicly acknowledged excuse to splurge and unwind, but no one is forced to partake in it. Valentine’s Day is yours to cherish and look forward to — or ignore completely; to celebrate it in any way you want — or not at all. Russel Stover isn’t hiring goons to put a gun to your head. Sure, Valentine’s Day is silly and highly commercialized, but just about every criticism of it is idiotic.

The holiday is supposed to assert the superiority of couples over singles? Nonsense. It’s not like most couples spend the evening conversing along the following lines: “How about the fact that Jim is still single? Loser. Let’s call him up and wish him a happy, sexy Valentine’s Day.” But if the mere sight of people enjoying something you don’t have wounds your tender feelings, you seriously need to re-examine your own entitlement issues. Not everything in life has to be about you. In fact, it’s usually the other way around — life almost always revolves around other people. It’s an important step to happiness — or at least some peace of mind — to learn to live with this reality. (And by the way, if you are happily single by choice, it shouldn’t bother you if other people are happily in relationships. Amirite?) The whole world doesn’t have to offer you constant endorsement and inclusion

The holiday is “foisted” on people? Hogwash. No one is foisting anything on anybody. You are free to treat it as any other day, and those in your life probably won’t care. “Okay,” a Valentine’s Day hater might say, “But what about the fact that I am socially obligated to acknowledge the holiday by giving my girlfriend a box of chocolates/a dozen roses/a diamond bracelet/a Maserati, or she’ll call me an insensitive lout and won’t have sex with me?” If that’s the case, I’d say the holiday isn’t the problem; the person with whom you are in a relationship is the problem. If buying presents for Valentine’s Day is such a sticking point, you’d do best to only get involved with people who share your view that this holiday is bunk. Alternatively, buy her a dozen roses, fergodssakes. If doing something that requires so little effort to please the person you (supposedly) love, or at least like, is such a huge friggin’ imposition, I’d say you should be thankful someone is willing to put up with you at all. There are different ways of being high-maintenance, and expecting romantic gestures on Valentine’s Day is by far not the only one, nor is it the most toxic. (Hint, hint.)

The holiday means you should only be romantic on one specially designated day a year? Like, you don’t have to love your partner the rest of the time? Nope, it doesn’t mean that at all, and I don’t see how that would logically follow from the fact that we have a holiday celebrating romance, however lamely. And you know what? People who say that are invariably the kind of insufferable folks who don’t like the idea of ever being romantic, and never cease explaining that pleasing one’s significant other is stupid, burdensome or unfair. So this particular criticism is both irrational and an exercise in hypocrisy, is what I’m saying.

The holiday is a scam by “greedy corporations”? Whatever. Sure, the folks at Hallmark and Hershey’s do their level best to convince you to hand over your $5, $10, $20 for some tchotckes — but compared to what banks, oil giants and defense contractors do to dip into your pockets, theirs are harmless shenanigans. I take it, if you are so concerned about greedy corporations, you never buy anything that’s ever been marketed in any way, shape or form — which is only, like, every single thing, ever? Yeah, I thought so. And, it’s not like you are only limited to teddy bears manufactured by abused orphans in a third-world country, or forced to buy diamonds. Speaking of diamonds, if the bloody underbelly of the diamond industry is what bothers you, I would assume it bothers you year-round, so it has nothing with Valentine’s Day. Every holiday is commercialized; no reason to single this one out.

The holiday is offensive because it’s celebrated by lots of people in similar ways? Oh, for fuck’s sake. Yes, the existence of romantic conventions is a total relationship-killer, especially if you are an über-sensitive killjoy who is conflating originality with sincerity (and is overly concerned with other people’s romantic gestures supposedly being a reflection on your own relationship).

So here is my message to people who hate St. Valentine’s Day: enough. Live and let live. Stop bitching. Realize that whatever you do, on Valentine’s Day or any other day, in a relationship or out of one, you are a lot less unique or special than you probably think; neither conformism nor setting yourself apart for its own sake should be your goal in life. Spend this day thinking how many February 14’s you’ve dedicated to repeating the same damned thing over and over — and reflect on how “original”, intelligent, or “rebellious” this really makes you. Apart from that, spend it however you want to spend it, and leave other people the hell alone to do the same. If you are single and feel hurt over Valentine’s Day, realize that people don’t get into relationships in order to make you feel bad. Romantic restaurants and roses don’t exist for the purpose of reminding you of your (supposedly happy?) single status. Learn not to feel bitter or offended just because others are having a good time. I mean, would it make you happier if your neighbors had one less pretext to have a good meal and a bottle of wine? Get over yourselves. Seriously.

Love and kisses, with heart-shaped milk chocolate sprinkles on top,

Amused.

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13 thoughts on “Quit Squawking About Valentine’s Day: A Postcard to the Outraged

  1. It’s like you said everything that was in my brain.

  2. Personally, I quite enjoy Valentine’s Day, but I know lots of people who are haters – I think I should send them your post!

  3. It’s a witty post, and most of the time I would probably agree with you. But as a recent widow I found yesterday quite difficult, mainly because of the love songs playing in all the shops. I wish you a happy, romantic day, but don’t forget that there are those for whom this is not possible.

    • Hi, Valerie,

      Please accept my sincere sympathies on the recent loss of your husband.

      I hope my post did not come off as saying that people should not feel grief, or nnot have it intensified around holidays which are, after all, always about family and/or loved ones. Despite the nonchalant tone of my essay, I am no stranger to pain. For example, I have a child with a fairly severe degree of autism. Needless to say, this has made it difficult for me to attend barbecues and such where happy parents chat about their normal, healthy five-year-olds doing science projects or composing poetry. But this is my problem, not theirs. Some of us are dealt a worse hand than others; such is life. I cannot expect other people to stop enjoying what they have and I don’t. That’s really the only point I was trying to make.

      Best wishes,

      Amused

  4. Danielle on said:

    Oh dear, how can you sever my great shield of querulous self-pity so thoroughly?? I am already single, entitlement is my last comfort!

    But really, you are correct. And it’s funny how our circumstances mirror our attitudes – I was mildly sick, in the thick of midterms, and of course forgot to turn off the lights to my car (in which I was forced to wait for an hour for help after school). I believe the Spirit of Valentine’s Day was simply granting me the same level of courtesy with which I had favored it in the past – which is to say, none at all.

  5. This made me chuckle.

    You’re right. We make Valentine’s Day and every other day what we want.

    I could have used this on Valentine’s Day, but I can always pull it up next year 🙂

    Thanks

  6. Fantastic post, I completly agree with you!!!

  7. Ugh. I really tried this year not to be that person, but alas, my cynicism got the best of me and I trod yet again on that bitter road yelling at all who dared to lift my spirits with a, “It’s okay. Your prince is coming soon.” This post was an eye opener. Thanks for that.
    http://www.thediarytalesofahopelessromantic.wordpress.com

  8. I love V-Day, even though all my relationships so far have been car crashes, and I’m always single in Ferbruary. It’s a great oportunity to meet up with my single friends, eat loads of chocolate, go for a (window) shopping spree, and wear the tackiest pink outfits we can think of. And bitch about couples, even though (or rather because) each of us would love to be part of one.
    Awesome blog, by the way. It’s a pity you stopped writing. Or have you?

  9. Why am I just now reading this? It’s brilliant! 🙂

  10. Arif on said:

    your blog theme is totally awesome! & your post is great i like this kind of blog 🙂

  11. Barbara Backer-Gray on said:

    Wonderful! I might reblog this next Valentine’s Day. I know a few people–single and in relationships–who go on about Valentine’s Day. I’m Dutch; we didn’t do Valentine’s Day in Holland and in general the Dutch tend to look down on commercialized holidays, but hey, any excuse for lots of chocolate is just fine with me.

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