I believe that any woman with a heart in her chest has been raised to have that heart broken on Valentine’s Day, a holiday which, after all, commemorates the execution date of a third century Christian martyr.
From our days in high school where we’d lament the absence of that “certain someone,” while waiting in vain for the mail truck to pull up loaded with love notes from unknown admirers, to current visions of midnight soaks in huge Jacuzzis and gazes exchanged over candle-lit meals in quaint out-of-the-way restaurants, we’re doomed to disappointment. Yet I have to admit it stubbornly remains my favorite holiday.
Just as New Years makes women think of past accomplishments and future goals, February 14th conjures up romance and undying declarations of love. For men, it conjures up an uncomfortable holiday created by Hershey and Hallmark, a sort of final examination for their relationship, requiring at least a card (mostly hand delivered because it was purchased minutes before) and maybe a slightly underwhelming present.
Studies show that women buy almost 85% of the one billion cards (that’s three for every man, woman and child!) sent each year. I think most would agree that whoever decided that comic valentines were a good idea should have been sent away to think about it. Almost 25% of all cards fall into that category, mostly sent by those 35 and under. What’s the purpose of involving Cupid in our snide and cynical world? The same with the Necco hearts that now say “DIVA,” ‘WHAT’S UP?” and “EMAIL ME” instead of “Sweetheart” “Be Mine” and “I Love You.” Are we too cool to tell the people who keep us functioning… who give us the reason to function at all… that we love them?
I am the target audience; no I am the poster child, for the greeting card industry. I’m one of those who spend way too much time in the card aisle, choosing exactly the right message for my husband, my children, my father and my mother-in-law, my sister and my five closest friends. While candy and flowers are nice touches, to me it’s the words that are the real gift. To remind them all of the comfort the strength of their love gives me, and how much harder my life would be without them, is a once a year opportunity afforded by Valentine’s Day.
It would be nice to say that my holiday includes poetry and sighs, black pearls and sexy (yet incredibly flattering) red lingerie. But it is nicer to say that the love I suspect most of us celebrate is far from blind… it is clear eyed and grateful, constant and honest, earned and returned. We are at our best when we express our love, after all these are the people who know us best and love us anyway.
What else never grows old? What else will survive us? What else promises chocolate? Happy Valentine’s Day!