Yesterday was an odd day for me emotionally. It has been a week-end of overturned plans; yesterday, instead of the motorcycle ride we planned to take to the Everglades Seafood Festival, we had my brother-in-law and his wife over for a meal. We grilled the food that we had planned to serve on Friday, but didn't because those plans fell apart.
My parents have gone to Hawaii with their friends, and they're posting wonderful pictures--it makes me yearn for mai tais by a distant, different shoreline. I did use that emotion as a motivation to get the paperwork to get our passports renewed. I've still got a few months before I would have to start the process over again.
I am glad to see people posting on Facebook about the Grammy Awards, as I grow weary of the rage and the reposted stories. I don't want to know what you're reading that's made you so very angry. Go back to talking about your breakfasts, please.
I watched the animated shows and partially animated shows on Fox: Son of Zorn has really blossomed into a show worth watching. It was good to end the day laughing at an absurd cartoon.
Here we are, the day before Valentine's Day, a holiday that has always left me queasy. When I was young, in elementary school, in the years before teachers leapt in to make sure that no one felt left out, Valentine's Day was a clear indication of who was in, who was out. I got my fair share of Valentines in the shoe box that I made into a "post office box," but no declarations of undying love.
Now that I am older, I see this day as essentially a manufactured holiday, yet another one, designed to make us feel like we must spend gobs and gobs of money to demonstrate our love.
If you want to show me you love me, don't spend thousands on a bauble. Go ahead and pay down the mortgage. It may not seem romantic on its face, but what could be more romantic than ensuring that I have a roof over my head and a door that locks.
And there's a larger social justice element, even beyond the question of how we spend our money and the best use of that money. This blog post reminds us of how many of our Valentine's Day traditions are built on the backs of abused workers--and not just abused workers, but enslaved workers and children: "70-75% of the world’s chocolate comes from cocoa beans harvested in West Africa, where almost 2 million children work under violent and hazardous conditions. Many of these children are kidnapped or sold (some as young as 7 years old) and forced into such labor." The statistics are similar for our roses, our diamonds, our technology, and our stuffed animals.
I do understand why people want a holiday in the long winter months to celebrate love. But I also understand how this holiday is painful to many: those who have lost the loves of their lives, those who have never experienced the love for which they yearn, those who love in a different way. After all, this holiday doesn't celebrate all love, but one certain kind of love, and the societal hype reinforces ideas that may get in the way of a realistic approach to relationships.
Every day, ideally, should be Valentine's Day, a day in which we try to remind our loved ones how much we care--and not by buying flowers, dinners out, candy, and jewelry. We show that we love by our actions: our care, our putting our own needs in the backseat, our concern, our gentle touch, our loving remarks.
I think that in America we do a bad job of learning how to manage our emotional lives. We think our feelings are real. We forget that the emotion we have today will likely be gone by tomorrow. We forget that our bad feelings are often triggered by all sorts of things that have nothing to do with how we really feel. Low blood sugar has caused many a fight--and probably more divorces and break-ups than we like to think about. Many of us go through daily life fatigued. We think our boredom and sadness are caused by our families or our friends or our jobs--and that might be the case--or we might just need more sleep.
So, as we begin the mad rush to Valentine's Day, let us take a moment to remember the gift of being able to love each other.