A Valentine's Grinch
I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day; in fact there are times when I veer towards Valentine’s grinch status. When I was growing up it wasn’t a “thing” in Australia. We didn’t make or receive cards, and I was completely unaware of it. (Thank goodness — it seems so competitive, and must be agony for teens.)
These days it’s so commercialized, and often the expectations are huge. Thou must take thy beloved out for a “romantic” (and expensive) dinner, there must be red roses, and chocolate etc. I have no objection to chocolate of course (though it should come at all times of the year) but those red Valentine’s roses are exquisitely formed but scentless, and for me, a scentless rose is a rose without soul. Those roses are, for me, symbolic of what’s wrong with Valentine’s Day — so much of it is for show. I’d much rather a bunch of imperfect roses that smell glorious. Like these.
Now I’m all for celebrating love — love in all its forms, not just romantic love — and I’m not saying all Valentine’s celebrations are for show — some good friends of mine got married on Valentine’s Day and I know others who proposed on Valentine’s Day — it’s just that the commercial aspects seem to dominate, and commercial interests are dictating how love should be celebrated. And it’s both expensive and narrow.
Declarations of love should not be by the calendar. People have their own personal calendars that they should celebrate their love by — first date, first kiss or first time of making love, even a quarrel and make-up could be celebrated, as well as weddings, birthdays—the list is endless.
My parents were romantic souls and Mum and Dad demonstrated their love all the time in various ways. I remember some of my teenage friends being embarrassed when they walked into the kitchen and found my parents kissing, or dancing to the radio. They were in their late 50’s so to my friends they were old. But even in their 80’s they still kissed and cuddled and danced together.
We kids all grew up in that environment and those expectations stayed with us. So for me, a perfect scentless red rose in a cellophane tube just doesn’t cut it. As for those marriage proposals made in public before an audience, I hate them. Talk about pressure to say yes! So unfair and not at all romantic, in my view.
But the other thing Valentine’s Day does is to exclude people who are not part of a couple, and what sort of a celebration of love does that? That’s why I call myself a “Love Actually” kind of writer, because in my books I don’t just write about romantic love between the main couple but also about other kinds of love — a parent’s love of a child or children, the love of family, of siblings, of friends and comrades, love of country, even love of animals.
So that’s why I’m a Valentine’s grinch. But feel free to convince me otherwise. And if you do celebrate Valentine’s Day, let us know how.