Ok. So I’m really tired of capitalism’s take-over of the holiday dedicated to Love, Valentine’s Day. Like everything else in the USA, the theme of this Hallmark holiday has become “follow the money.” And for sure, there’s money, big money, to be made pushing “l’amor,” the language of romance.
There is no human drive so strong as the drive to live forever, and, of course, our finite physicality allows us only one path to that end… procreation. As for immortality, our souls may live on – that’s my bet – but there’s no guarantee; however, science has assured me that, as long as my descendants buy into the whole Valentine’s Day marketing scheme and find themselves a willing partner, my DNA will continue to live on and on and on, though my own body will be incinerated and buried in the root system of a sugar maple sapling. Hmmm. This brings me back to the capitalistic conversion of Valentine’s Day into a celebration of romantic love, where two-hundred-dollar-a-dozen red rose bouquets, enough chocolate to make Willy Wonka spill the golden-wrappered contents of his stomach all over the Chocolate Factory, and ridiculously overpriced, limited-menu “romantic” dinners in overly crowded restaurants, come with the gamble that a full belly, an empty wine glass, and some pretty, red flowers will lead one to the immortality he seeks.
I am here to propose a different, though assuredly less profitable, spin on the holiday of love. I believe Valentine’s Day should be a day to celebrate Love in ALL of its forms, from romantic love to familial love, to love of our friends, our pets, and our neighbors, to our love of mankind, the animal kingdom, and, ultimately, Planet Earth. Wouldn’t we all be better off, especially those of us who are single, if we focused our attention not on our romantic partner, or lack thereof, but instead on the love we have to give to all of the people and creatures with whom we inhabit this big, beautiful ball of rock and water. Wouldn’t we be better served, and much richer in so many ways, if we celebrated Valentine’s Day by visiting some elderly folks in nursing homes and showing them our appreciation for the paths they’ve cleared to make way for us? Or visiting a local shelter and spending some of our love on some of the lonely and forgotten animals who just want to share their love with us? Or dropping a five-dollar Dunkin Card in the mailbox and letting our mailman know how much we appreciate that he braves rain, snow, sleet, hail, and blindingly hot and humid weather to help us keep up our various correspondences? How about remembering your favorite teacher with a short note to say “thank you for helping me get to this place in my life. I appreciate you.”? The cashier in the grocery who is so used to being abused by angry customers that your sunny smile, your quick, albeit, corny joke, and your humble offer to bag your own groceries causes them to pause and look at you, just for a moment, like you have three heads. Visit your local nursery, buy a sapling, and plant a tree or a shrub in honor of someone who has loved you. You’ll increase the oxygen supply, create some shade, and do a bit to alleviate the climate crisis. Finally, if none of these seem just right, take that money you might have otherwise spent trying to achieve immortality, and drop it in the mailbox at the local homeless shelter, a center for victims of domestic violence and abuse, your local library, a Boys and Girls Club, animal shelter, or whatever charitable organization seems worthy of your love and your cash. And if you have no cash, like so many of us these days, show your love by giving your time to someone who needs someone: volunteer. You just might find you love yourself a little bit, or a lot bit, more if you do.
Face it. Your bank account empties way more quickly than it fills, but you have a limitless supply of love to share. After all, Love, like kisses and hugs, is worthless until you give it away.