Monday, February 14, 2011

My Lamented Valentine...

One of the things I truly love about my wife and what has kept us together for almost sixteen years is our mutual disdain for superficial holidays. Early in our relationship, we made a pact to never, ever celebrate Sweetest Day -- no cards, no handshake, nothing.

Anyone with half a brain knows Sweetest Day was concocted by greeting card companies in an effort to bridge the gap between Father's Day and Christmas. Though I'm one of the few who still sends out Labor Day cards to all my family and friends, I'm not a fan of frivolously planting holidays throughout the year for monetary gain.

Today is Valentine's Day, the cash cow of the greeting card industry. It's Hallmark's hallmark day. And as a special Valentine's Day gift to each other, my wife and I decided not to celebrate. I gotta tell you, her brazen disregard for conventional romantic milestones is starting to turn me on.

I know, I know, we're such bad people. But, I don't feel bad at all. In fact I feel a whole lot better about this Valentine's Day than the previous fifteen when, at a bare-bones minimum, I was out fifty bucks for long-stemmed red roses or twenty-five for a dozen pieces of chocolate-covered fruit -- sometimes I would even do both. Holy heck that's a lot of dough to be spending on two of the least unique gifts in the history of gift giving.

Our kids are not a part of our nonconformist ways. They celebrate Valentine's Day like every other red-blooded American child -- with a box of pre-printed cards and candy hearts. Growing up I too participated in this charade. It stung to find out that not every girl in my third grade class really wanted to be my valentine. What kind of holiday does this to an innocent boy? As scarred as I still am, I'm not about to push my values and beliefs on my children. They need to feel the same pain and awkward shame that I did growing up. "Sorry son, I know the candy heart Carly gave you said you were 'Too cool', but she most likely didn't mean it."

Kids can be cruel, but they ain't nothing compared to greeting card companies. A few years back I wrote a letter to the American Greetings creative department. My letter detailed just how I felt about Valentine's Day cards. I suggested a new line of cards for the more realistic child. Instead of the traditional "Be Mine" or "My Favorite Valentine", my cards would read: "You're In My Class" and "Don't Get Too Excited, I'm Giving The Same Card To Every Kid." See how that works? No satisfaction, no disappointment. The perfect holiday message. A month later, I received a big box of blank cards from American Greetings and a note that read: "Get Well Soon."

Even if my wife and I wanted to celebrate, doing so would be difficult. That's what happens when you have kids. Between a long day of work and our children's baseball and swim practices, we probably won't even see each other until sometime around ten o'clock in the evening. At which time I'll probably take a blank card from the big American Greetings box and scribble something inside like, "Don't Get Too Excited, I'm Planning To Fall Asleep In About Five Minutes Anyway."

Happy Valentine's Day!

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