I was 13 when I had my first "real" Valentine. He was 14, my friend's older brother and a freshman in high school. And, although we'd only met once, as it goes, we were smitten with each other. So, by the end of the call, we'd decided we'd be each other's Valentines, even though it was after school and I didn't have the balloons and candy other girls in my class had carried from admirers. In short, the only reason I had one was to say that I had one -- and that I was special. In time, these demonstrations of affection were "more meaningful" if they were tied to gifts: roses. chocolates. flowers. jewelry. And, like many other gals, I craved the exact same thing, intoxicated with the idea of love more than love itself.
Truthfully, on their own, these things can be sweet, great tokens of love from someone you care about. But, throw in the word "Valentine", a baby in a diaper with a bow and arrow and call it a holiday, and suddenly it's tripled in meaning, frustrating one half of a couple for needing to observe the darn thing and another side of the couple expecting it to be observed.
Yes, sounds all too romantic. Right? Right?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Valentine's Day hater. On the contrary, I may be one of the sappiest, happily-ever-after types you'll meet which hasn't wavered, no matter how many Valentine's Days I've been unattached. And, I don't think it's bad to have a day where you have an extra chance to show someone you care.
But, is that what this day started out to be? If you believe what history says not so much: In one old tale, a man by the name of Valentine, also a priest, helped soldiers marry their sweethearts when it was outlawed -- and was eventually put to death. In another tale, Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape harsh conditions. And, other legends refer to the time as a day to celebrate fertility.
When you strip these stories away to the core, you can probably deduce how they became associated with romantic love. But, at the heart of it (pun intended), Valentine himself wasn't this deep, profound lover. Heck, from what I can tell, he got it pretty bad for helping other people be happy. And, there's still no telling for sure where all the other stuff came from.
So, where does that leave us?
These days, people may be overwhelmingly unaffected by what the "holiday" has evolved to. For many, the grand demonstrations of love are OK. And, as long as Hallmark, jewelers, Russel Stovers and the like tell us this day is important (and, people continue to spend hundreds to show that they care as H & R Block points out) it's likely that Valentine's Day will remain the way we know it to be. Just like Christmas and many other holidays get caught up in the commercial shuffle. Doesn't make it bad, if that work for you. Nope, it's sort of a bummer if that is all that it's about. And even more of a bummer if you leave the Love Celebration for the 14th, alone.
Bottom line: If I wake up on the 15th, 16th, 17th and beyond being showered with as much love and demonstrations of that love as I got on the 14th, or got a sweet little token of love on a random Wednesday evening after a long day, then it'll mean more than something that came in because a holiday dictated it so. In which case, Valentine's Day was simply a "reminder day" of all that love that we're sharing in the off season -- and not the whole fiesta itself.