Going through my old clip files from my days at the college paper, I came across one of my weekly columns (mine ran every Monday and was entitled “Carpe Diem, Baby” – some things never change…). This one in particular took aim at Valentine’s Day and I thought it only appropriate to share my view on this annual ritual, circa 2003 (do keep in mind that I was quite single at this point, and possibly a little harsh on my fellow females. Still – my heart was in the right place):
Monday, Febraury 3, 2003
Girls, you ought to be ashamed.
Exploiting your loved one on Valentine’s Day is not something to be proud of. And yet, as this day to end all dreadful days approaches, I see both greed and shallowness heading up its approach.
The other day I was in the kitchen doing what some might call cooking (I like “scorching” or “charring” as alternatives) when suddenly I was bombarded by Valentines Day ads on the radio. The three-minute onslaught included everything from candies to restaurants to fine jewelry.
Then later, hanging out in the dining pavilion, three girls seated at an adjacent table initiated the pre-Valentine’s Day rites for which females have become notorious. These include giddy speculations regarding the kinds of gifts and adornments that might be showered upon them this year, as well as much reminiscing about past offerings from their respective admirers: sparkly baubles, flowers, nights on the town… what more could a girl ask for?
Umm…. how about… love?
Last time I checked, Valentine’s Day was about love and expressing that love to someone special. Do we really lack so much imagination that we can’t express love without purchasing something?
Men agonize about the tradition of gift giving, unsure of how much to spend, what to spend it on and whether or not they will meet the expectations of their significant females.
Not to mention they’re held prisoner by a nasty double standard. Along with Sweetest Day (two words: card. companies.), whose date every woman seems to have etched into her brain the minute she ceases to be single, Valentine’s Day is a tango danced by the retail industry and the male population.
In a recent poll performed by the National Retail Federation, surveyors concluded that guys typically shell out four times more than their loved one. The average male will spend $158 while his other half will dig deep into her pockets for a whopping $36.
This scarcely comes as a shock. It’s more than socially acceptable for a man to foot the bill for diamonds and dinner while women wrap themselves in a bow and squeal, “Here I am!”
Yep, her we are ladies. In the 21st century, finally reaping some of the benefits of the feminist movement, and yet we’re still playing the game of “Let’s be equal when it’s fun and convenient and leave the rest to the men.”
But don’t despair for our misguided gender just yet.
There is still hope.
Valentine’s Day needs a makeunder, a chance to get back to its roots. I’m not saying we should all bust out shrines to St. Valentine plot clandestine marriages in honor of said Roman priest.
But I do propose a challenge to all couple out there to nix the gifts this year. At least the store-bought variety.
Boycott the chocolatiers and jewelry counters. Shun the retail industry, stand on their display cases and scream at the top of your lungs, “You will leach off my love no longer!”
Grab that sweetheart of yours and vow to spend some quality time together. You’ll find a little imagination can create an unforgettable day.
And if creativity is not your forte, eHow, a website promoting healthy relationships, has a few suggestions.
Guys, leaving little notes around the house or in her car is a great way to build anticipation for a special night together. Or, paint a message of love on her lawn (just be sure to use water soluble, non-toxic paint, lest your eternal love be eternally seared into her front yard).
For the ladies, try a candle-lit bedroom with a picnic for two laid out on the bed. Steer clear of both soup and fondue for this one.
Whether you get fancy or get down to basics, it’s the expression of love and wanting to be together that’s important.
So, curl up together by the fire, get lost in a three-hour conversation, or (and eHow gets takes the prize for cheese on this one) watch the sunset and promise each other your love will burn longer than the sun (you may now gag).
But seriously, this year let’s take the retail out of romance.