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V-Day: The Aftermath

February 16, 2011

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but I feel that we here at Love n’ War can’t let it go unacknowledged.

Since that very first February in grade school when it seemed everyone was drowning in glittery cards and heart-shaped chocolates but you, you’ve probably had what could generously be described as a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day (and more accurately described as an annual dilemma over whether to slit your wrists quickly or drink yourself to death slowly). And while there must be some die-hard V-Day enthusiasts out there (who are probably the same people who adorn their houses in millions of twinkly Christmas lights as early as All Saint’s Day), I myself have never met one. Personally, I have always maintained that February 14th is just another day on the calendar, distinctly marked only by the sadistic taunting caused by the parade of other people’s happiness. I hated everything about it, and did everything I could to combat its insipid evil and prove that its manufactured Hallmark kind of plastic love was something I could do without, thank you very much.

Then I started seeing someone.

The first thing to understand about me when it comes to relationships is that I don’t do them. That is, I don’t do “girlfriend” (unless my sassy best friend is addressing me with her hard-learned street wisdom while snapping her fingers with that weird “question mark“ movement that I can never seem to get right). And yet, I’ve been seeing this fella for over a two and a half years, and we love each other. We had a lovely, low-key fun time yesterday, and were super shmoopy about it. And it’s right about now that all my still-single girlfriends call me a traitor and promptly stop following me on Twitter.
So what gives? Am I a hypocrite? Didn’t all we singletons make an unspoken pact to disregard this holiday as the pointless commercialized nonsense it is? If that were so, we’d all be traitors, because in our hearts, we know it ain’t pointless and empty at all. After all, if it were, would we really get so worked up over it? We’re suckers for special days, if only to break the monotony, but a day isn’t special if the thing that it celebrates doesn’t apply to you. The fact that we go to such lengths to prove that Feb. 14 doesn’t affect us in turn proves that it does.

It’s not just procrastinators- everybody at some point needs a deadline to get them to do whatever it is that they need to do. If Valentine’s Day didn’t come around to remind us to let our loved ones know how much we care, chances are we never would. The old adage “you shouldn’t need a special day to tell someone you love them” is true enough, but sadly, unrealistic. If we really didn’t need this day, we would’ve stopped celebrating it years ago. You know, like All Saint’s Day.
But this doesn’t mean that I’ve turned. I still agree that Valentine’s Day, while nice in sentiment, comes off as tacky and insincere, and has the added benefit of making lonely people downright suicidal (the fact that it’s in fucking February probably doesn’t help). But like cinnamon hearts and romantic movies, maybe it’s a guilty pleasure harmless in indulging in moderation. Hell, I’ve been a hater for so long, maybe it’s time to give love a try.
With that in mind, I propose that what we hate isn’t the day on the calendar, nor is it the general idea of love. It’s the forced superficial sentiment- chocolate and flowers as symbols of only one kind of love, the coupled, monogamous love that is apparently the only kind that is valid. But whether or not you are in a relationship, my guess is that you still have love in your life.
You love your friends. You love your family. You love your passions, whatever they may be. You love your favourite movie, favourite song, favourite ice cream flavour. You love your hometown, your childhood memories, the look of the lake at sunset. You love being single, being out there, being alive.
Whatever you love, go ahead and celebrate it. And if what you love is hate, well then, by all means, be a hater. And those who love you will celebrate that, too.
It doesn’t matter what other people are celebrating, and it doesn’t matter if you fit into the accepted norm of what we think of as “love.” Use this reminder on the calendar to be good to whatever or whomever it is that you love. And above all, remember to love yourself.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Tanya says:

I have a confession to make:

I secretly have always disliked Valentine’s Day!

Let me explain: I do not dislike Valentine’s Day in the usual way people do, out of some misplaced unhappiness about being single. Even when single, I have never felt that Valentine’s Day brings into sharp focus my unhappiness or my desire for a relationship. I never felt jealous or spiteful of all the happy couples. I was always happy for them – like a cheerleader for love!

I dislike Valentine’s Day because it encourages this notion that you need a special occasion to do something thoughtful for your loved one.

I accept my Rae’s point in relation to the natural procrastination that will stem from a lack of any structured deadline. I understand that doing something nice ‘just because’ can often be seen as not necessary, and, therefore, it get relegated to the ‘list of things I will do as soon as I have some free time’, which, of course, means it will always get done ‘tomorrow’ and never today.

But then cue Valentine’s Day – flowers and chocolates are bought, and all the complacency of the past 12 months is suddenly forgiven and forgotten.

Not only that, but, often, the gestures that do come out at Valentine’s Day are forced by the pressure that surrounds the day.

I prefer to deal with Valentine’s Day by expecting nothing, and being pleasantly surprised if I do get something nice from someone I’m seeing. That way, there’s no pressure, and I feel any gift is motivated out of genuine feeling, rather than fear of upsetting me if no acknowledgement is made.

That is what happened this year, and yes I am still smiling about having been surprised with a Valentine. But my point is it wouldn’t have been the same if I had made a big deal about Valentine’s Day and made him feel like he was obligated to do something. I don’t want presents out of obligation, because, for me, it’s not about the present, it truly is about the thought.

And I, for one, do not want that thought to be ‘shit I better get her something or I will be sleeping outside with the dog…’

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2011 6:51 pm

    Great posts! I agree: to those who see the triteness and kitsch factor of St. Valentine’s day, it’s hard to not be cynical. But we’re mostly selfish and doing something that symbolizes our love for someone inevitably weans in proportion to how we feel and think about that person. It’s just a reality, and I feel sorry for couples who buy chocolates and flowers for one another once a year. That being said, if that makes them glad on that day, akin to expecting and receiving gifts on Jesus’ celebrated birthday, why not preserve that illusion? Culture, after all, is fabricated, giving us motive to be blasé, and but we all carry our own illusions, be it towards St. Valentine`s Day or Nuit Blanche or saving kids in South Africa (haha!).

    When I read your post, it reminded me of a manifesto. Like a love manifesto. Love your passions if you can’t love someone right now. Touché!

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