Madly in Love

Valentine’s Day. That simple phrase immediately fills my mouth with a sour taste and tightens my stomach into a knot of anger and frustration – anger at Hallmark for exploiting this holiday, and frustration at the rest of the world for their meek acceptance of it. Though the holiday was originally based upon Christian and ancient Roman legend, Hallmark and other card companies have knowingly ruined every February 14 for America’s entire single population. And all in the name of making a profit. This year, all of my friends voiced their dread of the best-intentioned holiday of the year – the only holiday built wholly the concept of expressing love. Yet with their desire to sell the maximum amount of candy, flowers, and cards, businesses have twisted this day into an expectation for empty declarations of love – for what material object could ever truly signify passion or even platonic love? These greedy corporations are not only capitalizing upon, but trivializing and commercializing the greatest emotion in the world; they are teaching generations of young Americans to value gifts and material items as much as the actual feeling. For unattached individuals, the holiday seems to serve only as an opportunity for couples to flaunt their happiness together. The only “fun” of the day rests upon the candy and the occasional card from a “secret admirer” i.e. your best friend or the freshman in your AP Chemistry class. After exchanging candies and fake Valentines, the remainder of the day can be spent either wallowing in loneliness while your friends go to dinner with their significant others, or attempting to enjoy the holiday with your girlfriends. However, the latter option will inevitably descend into a sob session – “Why doesn’t he like me?” “He said he’d call…”etc. Even for those with love interests, Valentine’s Day is not always fulfilling, but stressful. Boys wonder if their gifts will be sufficient or overdone, unromantic or overly sappy, or if their relationship is serious enough to even merit recognition of the holiday. I have known more than one relationship to collapse as a result of imprudent Valentine’s gifts, plans, or lack thereof. Either he will scare the girl away with the strength of his feelings, or his failure to bestow her with sufficient evidence of his love will anger her. On the other hand, girls worry that their lovers’ presents will not meet their hopes. Yet girls also distort the holiday; they add a competitive element with their concern over the quality of their Valentines compared to those of their friends. I myself have not enjoyed Valentine’s Day since the third grade, and not because I have never had a boyfriend on the holiday. Third grade marked a change in my mindset because BOYS somehow entered my elementary all-girls’ school psyche, and suddenly it was not enough to receive chocolates from my dad. However, I did enjoy Valentine’s Day as a child. Perhaps as the only group of people unencumbered by societal sexual pressures, children will forever be the sole party to truly enjoy the holiday for what it is supposed to be – an unadulterated expression of love.