Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dubious Holidays

I don't understand all the hype about Valentine's Day. It's always seemed to me (post-elementary school) to be an agreeable little day when you say something nice to your sweetie, buy your kids a cupcake or a cute stuffed animal, and generally go about your life as if it were any other day in February. When did it become this fraught-with-meaning-and-potential-disaster romantic juggernaut? I read this morning that people are expected to spend $17 billion commemorating the day one way or another, and that it has all the earmarks of looming catastrophe for couples (unmet expectations), singles (loneliness) and anyone who wants to eat out tonight (packed restaurants).

Valentine's Day isn't alone in this distressing regard either. Other throwaways like Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day also clog restaurants and phone lines and pressure celebrants to find the perfect gift/activity/sentiment. They're all so silly and wasteful. Relationships susceptible to falling apart if one of these Days fails to go flawlessly have to be in pretty sad shape. Is there really any benefit in trying to shore them up with the perfect celebration?

I think this might be a form vs. substance thing, in addition to yet more evidence of how incredibly influential media hype can be.
If you treat your significant other and your parents properly in the first place, there's no need to get crazy on some commercially prompted day in February, May or June. But if your relationships are tenuous or they feel more like chores than delights, I suppose making a production out of one day a year could be a way of pretending or even feeling like everything's solid. For my money, though, there's no contest between the day-in, day-out pleasure of good relationships and nothing special on these holidays vs. a blowout holiday and nothing special the rest of the year. Give me the substance over the form any day.

No comments: