This year our Valentine’s Day weekend took us to Connecticut where we spent a few days enjoying surprisingly warm February weather while exploring Yale University and its surroundings.
A lot of people knock Valentine’s Day, and for good reason. It, and most of our major holidays, have become what Lucy van Pelt so expressly dubbed Christmas: a ‘big commercial racket’. Yet, while the merchandise push has certainly gotten out of hand, the holidays themselves should not be so harshly judged.
I often think of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when trying to formulate how I feel about days like Valentine’s Day. Many of us, myself included, subscribe to the, ‘I show my spouse, children, family, friends, etc. love everyday of the year’ philosophy. Yet, I think of Tiny Tim telling his father, “…that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see” and of Bob Cratchit himself insisting on toasting Scrooge, a man who has made his life miserable, merely because of ‘the day’, leading his wife to relent: `I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s,’ said Mrs. Cratchit, `not for his. Long life to him. A merry Christmas and a happy new year. He’ll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt.’
Days as these are remembrances for those who will embrace them. With the day on your mind you might give a little freer, love a little deeper, and acknowledge those around you with greater consciousness than on any ordinary day.
In my house, we have made Valentine’s Day an intimate affair, one that doesn’t include gifts, and whose only stipulation is being together. And the best part is, celebrating on the actual day isn’t necessary.
Our first six years of marriage, Valentine’s Day consisted of dinners at home. This was before the days of croissants and fine dining and made from scratch meals. More recently, we’ve taken the weekend before or after Valentine’s Day to spend a few days away, using the holiday as our marker of remembrance that concentrated time together is important.
Who among us doesn’t decide we need a doughnut when we discover it is National Doughnut Day or willingly accept the free coffee on National Coffee Day?
‘The Day’ might mean nothing in particular. It might have been forced into acceptance by some big eastern syndicate or could simply have been the memory of a Saint taken way out of proportion. Still, I think a day spent loving others* isn’t all that bad.
*Or giving to others, or eating doughnuts, or drinking coffee.