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Monday, 2.14.05: Valentine's Day

Another annoying holiday. I suppose Valentine's Day has been commercialized for centuries -- an occasion for the exchange of flowers, candy, poetry. But it seems crazier than ever. Have you tried getting into a restaurant on Valentine's Day without a reservation?

The socially sensitive might suggest today as a celebration of good will towards one another. Blow kisses to everyone you love. Christmas cards, where the green tannenbaums have inverted into red hearts.  The feel-good one-two punch. Engorge yourself with Peace on Earth in December, then get a booster shot just when winter seems like it will never end.

No, maybe it's fun to get a valentine from Grandma, but Valentine's Day is about coupling up. If you aren't romantically attached today, you're an oddball.

Ages ago I went to a big company meeting on 2/14 and one of the presenters had placed handfuls of red-foiled Hershey's kisses at each place around the table. The facilitator was unusually grumpy -- downright snappish. Later, she confessed privately to a young male associate that Valentine's Day was an wrenching reminder of her eternal spinsterhood. He promptly came to me and blabbed the confidence. So maybe that's a reminder that intimate coupling up always has its elements of betrayal.

Another person I know decided to announce the end of the marriage to an unsuspecting spouse just before Valentine's Day. The thought of buying one more sentimental card -- one more year of faking romance -- was unbearable. So, maybe, for those who struggle with a life of integrity, Valentine's Day forces the issue.

As I think about it though, I wonder if the socially sensitive are sleeping with the commercially savvy. Sure, there is the stigma of not having a sweetheart today. But we can all take part in what has become National Chocolate Day. It doesn't take two to enjoy a bag of Hershey's kisses -- in the original milk chocolate or the more trendy bittersweet.



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