by Chelsea Embree
Aside from the rational reasons — it’s not a real holiday, it arguably exists only for the sake of consumerism, those candy hearts are gross — it just plain sucks to be surrounded by these images saturated with saccharine love. The cherubs holding hands in fields of flowers with red and pink hearts blossoming overhead are just a little too much.
Granted, I can be a little bit of a Grinch around most holidays. I hate Christmas music. I think once you’ve seen any fireworks show on Independence Day, you’ve seen all the fireworks shows. Even birthdays have lost their glimmer, now that I’ve passed 21 and have no further rites of passage to anticipate.
The thing about all of these holidays — Valentine’s Day in particular — is the pressure. Every Feb. 14, all of America is expected not only to be in love, but also to fully express that love in a way that’s nothing short of over the top.
I’m not in a relationship right now, but I love love. I think it’s grand. And the reason it’s so grand has nothing to do with elaborate displays of affection, even if those are nice sometimes. The wonderful thing about love is that it’s always there in little ways every day — someone making you coffee just the way you like it without having to ask, leaving the light on for when you get home, taking actual interest in your banal day.
I think of this past summer, when I was at a street music festival in Moscow and saw an older man dancing, his significant other looking on and laughing. He danced over to her and planted a bunch of kisses on her face, and they both had these big, great, wrinkly smiles. No one else existed in their world at that moment.
All these little intimacies are celebrations in themselves, and they happen totally naturally, with no need for a day devoted to them. Love doesn’t work when it’s forced.
Hence, Valentine’s Day just doesn’t work.
My sophomore year of college, I decided to start a tradition, something of an anti-Valentine’s Day. I was super single, so I decided to watch a slasher movie and buy myself one of those giant tubs of cheese balls. And it was great. Gone were my forlorn high school Valentine’s Days most likely spent woefully watching a romantic comedy and wondering why my life wasn’t like that. “Sin City” did have a few romantic undertones, but there was also a mostly beheaded guy exacerbating his wound with a gargled voice. That’ll kill any mood.
It’s not like I haven’t done the traditional Valentine’s Day thing, and it’s not like I haven’t enjoyed it. But my tradition, short-lived as it was, is worth bringing back and I’m committing to it enforce — boyfriend or not.
There are a million better times to celebrate love, and they’re not scheduled in advance. But as long as the shopping centers continue to stock candies and plush teddy bears starting in late January, it’s worth it to cancel out some of the overwhelming gushiness.
Embree may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2278.