Rethinking Valentine’s Day: Love is for every day

Abby Leaf

Kids in my fourth grade age group were dressed up in their best red turtlenecks, walking around a long table, dropping half addressed envelopes into brightly decorated bags with names written on the front. The Valentine’s Day tradition was something that even I, as a homeschooler, experienced. I liked to walk around twice to give myself more candy.

Abby Leaf
Abby Leaf

The expectation of opening my thickly-glued glitter bag and eating the goodies inside was my only focus, not spreading the love, or doing something nice for someone else. I wanted candy, and lots of it.There was nothing as unacceptable as the unsatisfying heart-shaped, cherry suckers that came in all-inclusive boxes of valentines. When I opened those, I thought they might as well have put nothing in their cards.

I was supposed to get stuff I liked. The “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” valentines with the plucky sayings like, “I’d like to have you raw and wriggling tonight, Precious” or “Yoda one for me,” would have sufficed. Thus the vicious cycle of disappointing Valentines begins.Far out expectations of this magical day begins for most of us in elementary school and perpetuates into adulthood.

Valentine’s Day is the most expensive holiday after Christmas. Americans spent $20 billion last year alone on cards, chocolates, jewelry, dinner and on their pets because heaven forbid that they be left out. The average amount we will spend this year is $130 individually. I don’t know about you, but I’m a poor college student, and I don’t have extra money lying around to make me feel like I did enough for someone on one allotted day.

I have had boyfriends who have gotten me zero presents for Valentine’s Day, while I thought I deserved six dozen roses, and two pounds of chocolate. But this holiday isn’t about me or you. It isn’t about getting a diamond ring or getting kissed and hoping it will lead to something else. This day is about showing love to other people.Like most holidays, our society has taken a wholesome idea and morphed it into a self-centered, materialistic nightmare.

It is supposed to be a day to commemorate St. Valentine who was put to death for marrying Christians against the will of the Roman emperor. He was thrown in jail, and wrote love letters to the jailer’s daughter. Thus “from your Valentine” was coined.In the early 1900s Hallmark made their first card, and we’ve been making them filthy rich ever since.

Was I conditioned through Hallmark movie specials where the leading lady always found her man in time to be kissed by the end, or other media saying that everyone should show affection on Valentine’s Day because it was the all encompassing day to show love? Aren’t other days good enough?

According to Kory Floyd in “Psychology Today,” showing affection and touching another human being lowers stress levels, blood pressure and increases happiness. If we showed people how we felt every day, we wouldn’t be spending billions on meaningless, impersonal, mass-produced, commercialized, cheap garbage that doesn’t make us feel any better.

As for me, you will probably find me watching “Warm Bodies,” eating inexpensive chocolate thinking about how much unnecessary money will be spent.