There are a lot of red and pink hearts lingering around the discount shelves of stores. The hype of Valentine’s has passed. For the single or broken hearted, perhaps there’s a sigh of relief. For the critics, perhaps the annual critique of the social construction of this national ritual has passed. I know I personally had found myself thinking about the consumerism aspects of Valentine’s Day and the economic benefit to various groups (e.g., restaurants, chocolatiers, etc) of convincing the country of the importance of this day. It’s easy enough write off or at least minimize.
Then, I thought to myself, “Self, why are you writing off or minimizing a day about love?”
I realized I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Is there a fair critique to be made of Valentine’s Day? Yes. But is there still something of value? Yes.
Despite the clear consumerism, and despite the hype that leaves mementos to love on a discount shelf, there is more to this day than chocolates and roses. There is a reminder that our lives are supposed to be about love, that love is important enough to celebrate, and that loving relationships are worth our investment. I now find myself enjoying those lingering remnants of the day: the string of heart shaped lights in my niece’s bedroom, the sweetheart poster on my neighbor’s door, the card on my table. They’re artifacts to remind me that love is all around. It is real. It lasts far longer than any of the ephemeral holiday décor. It is the thing to celebrate, to hold onto. And it is by returning to love, not just on one day but every day, that our lives become better. So here’s to the left over chocolates, the slightly wilting roses, and to anything that reminds us of the goodness to be found in love.