Friday, February 12, 2010

Is Valentine's Day Romance On Demand?

According to an article in yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune, a so-called life coach from New York has declared war on Valentine's Day. He's pushing for "more personalized expressions of meaningful feeling and sincere emotion," and he says that "you can't really be romantic when being romantic is completely expected." Apparently he's never heard of the single carved-in-stone rule of Romance: Must have HEA ending. Expected. Required. No excuses, buddy.

So here's a guy who coaches people presumably engaged in the sport of living who's making headlines--well, bottom of the front page of section E, but when you're casting about for grist for the blog, "Valentine's Day gets 'F' in romance" catches the eye--by coming up with a plan to make Valentine's Day (new name for the holiday TBA) a movable feast. It should be celebrated on a different day every year, says the coach, making it less predictable. Must say, reference to "the exploitation of love for profit" with regard to those greedy florists, candy makers, and greeting card companies hits a little too close to home for me.

Apparently college students in particular question the value of the holiday. One young woman is quoted at length about constructs and confidence and the myth of the knight in shining armor. Then we turn to the male point of view: "Why don't guys have a man's day where a girl goes out and gets us beer and stuff like that?" Ah, youth. Eventually the woman will learn that there's a reason why these holidays are inscribed on the calendar--Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, your wedding anniversary and the like--and that reason is the male point of view. "Guys" don't aspire to be knights in shining armor. King of the castle is more like it. The young man knows this already.

A few hours after I read this bit of news, I had the pleasure of helping my granddaughters address their valentines for school. These days the list of names comes home with instructions. Everyone gets a valentine. No more Charlie Browns. One of the girls picked a Barbie theme, and the other chose puppies and kitties. "Oh, this one is perfect for so-and-so." And tomorrow I get to take the treats for one of the parties. (Did the other one last fall.) We engage in some girl talk about Valentine's Days of old. Nana loads everybody up into the Wayback Machine. Yes, girls, Romance is about more that hearts and flowers, boys and girls, hugs and kisses. It's about friends and families and doing good deeds and all that stuff. So why do we have Valentine's Day? For the same reason we have days for other special aspects of our lives. One day on the calendar reminds us to celebrate a feeling we value every day.

Romance On Demand? So what? As long as it's not On Delay, we're good.
Right Shaq?

What are your thoughts? Is Valentine's Day too commercial? Too predictable? Do you have any particular expectations? Have you ever been blown away by a romantic gesture on Valentine's Day?

Gotta say, it's a good month to publish a Romance.

Note: Thanks to xkcd.com for the opening cartoon. The website allows free use of their material as long as it is not reproduced for sale.

21 comments:

Marcie said...

I think the holiday is overly commercial and retailers want to shove the holiday down your throat months before the holiday is due to arrive. There is even a day in October called Sweetest Day that is getting more attention as the years go by.
BUT - like you said people do need reminded. I don't think I was ever blown away, but small gestures can go a long way in making you feel special.

KylieBrant said...

My daughter and her friends always say Valentine's Day is over rated. But when she was in high school she went with a guy who was all about the grand gestures. I mean coming to the house and leaving a trail of chocolate kisses up the steps, bunch of balloons in her room with a ring inside one of them. I thought at the time he was going to spoil VD for her with anyone else.

What's wrong with a day that reminds everyone to make a gesture for their special someone? Even if it's flowers and a card...or just a card...it's appreciated. I tend to think that Mr. Life Coach talks big about a special day throughout the year but doesn't necessarily come through on it. Or if he does, doesn't that put it on his terms? He's romantic when he wants to be and not when it's expected?

Helen Brenna said...

Yeah, I think guys get put under a lot of pressure to come up with some special way to be romantic on VD, but I think this life coach is full of bs. Our society commercializes EVERY holiday. It's up to the individual to create that "personalized expression of meaningful feeling ..." As long as expectations aren't too high all it takes is a little thoughtfulness to make someone feel special.

My Writer's Attic said...

Seems to me that moving the day every year won't make much difference. Christmas is a different day of the week every year, but it's still Christmas. You'll know what the day is and you'll still be expected on that day to be romantic. It'll just make it harder for guys to remember.

I don't mind Valentine's Day even though my husband and I don't normally go all out with grand gestures. My husband shows me all year that I'm special so I don't really need a single day devoted to that, but I won't turn down a little extra attention either. :-)

lois greiman said...

All good points. But I like to see VD (doesn't that stand for venereal disease?) more as an EXCUSE to do something fun than a NEED to do something. That said...I have nothing planned. :)

Kathleen Eagle said...

I laughed out loud when I started to put VD into the post. Kind of like the current SI cover--was it Colbert or Stewart who pointed out the juxtaposition of the letters PU and the skier's butt. Ah, acronyms.

Cindy Gerard said...

Yes to all but hey, is there really any harm? Some guys are thoughtful all year long and some have a harder time so why not give them a day of atonement to make up for all the wouldas, shouldas and couldas? :o)
Plus we love any excuse to send the grandkids mail and they love getting Valentines.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Good point, Kylie. Coach wants to be romantic when HE wants to be, and not when it's expected. Can't we have both?

Absolutely, Helen--every holiday is commercialized. Our economy is all about consuming, so a retailer's gotta do what a retailer's gotta do. It's up to lovers and dreamers to do what they will with it.

I wonder how many weddings take place on Feb. 14.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Cindy, I'm with you. Kids love holidays, and a simple card is pure delight when they're little. And for most women, a single rose from a great guy is magic.

Michele Hauf said...

I like the excuse to receive chocolates from the hubby, but I'm always bummed when he buys me the fancy card that costs over $5, and then what do you do with it? Toss it after a few days. I've tried to curb him from card buying. It means little to me. Just give me chocolate!
Now the hubby, on the other hand, appreciates cards, and will save them for DECADES.

Now that my kids are either dating or in a relationship, it's fun to sit back and see how they celebrate the holidays. My son likes to go all out with flowers and chocolates. Does his girlfriend know what an awesome guy she has? :-)

Debra Dixon said...

Valentine's Day is commercial.

Which is one of the reasons I've never felt it was a particularly important holiday.

Also keep in mind I began dating my future husband when I was 16.

I haven't had a lot of starry-eyed "new guy" Valentine's Days. (g) It's possible I don't have a full appreciation of the day.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm with you on the cards, Michele. I go straight to the $.99 rack. For what cards cost these days, you can buy a paperback book!

And truthfully, I don't want him spending a bunch of money on roses, either. One rose is plenty.

Have you ever been in the grocery store around 5:00 on Valentine's Day. Man, those guys are snatching up the flowers.

catslady said...

I've learned to keep my expectations low and that way I don't get disapointed and can be pleasantly surprised. I've been married 41 years so I've had quite a variety from romantic dinners, flowers, chocolate, lottery tickets or nothing at all lol. This year we are having a dinner/dance at our American Legion with friends - should be fun.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, catslady, those wonderful American Legion dances! There's one in ONE COWBOY, ONE CHRISTMAS. Lovely for Valentine's Day, too.

MsHellion said...

So far I've had a great Valentine's--though I'm not going to get flowers or cards or any "Romance"--I might get a phone call and that'd be nice.

But my bosses (older men) brought in chocolate covered strawberries and thanked us for all our hard work. I had lunch with a friend and we laughed and acted out.

Acknowledgment of your value as a person, no matter who is a great Valentine.

alba said...

My DH says everyday is Valentines day ....
We both say every year no special jesters or gifts & every year I get a card flowers treats....
This year we decided to donate to the heart & stroke & Red Cross it's another way to share the Love.....
I was Watching Ellen today she had a great Idea call a random phone number tell them you love them....
I wonder if they would think your off the wall Might be better just to say HAPPY VALENTINES DAY..
Have a good one.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Mmm, chocolate covered strawberries. My dd gave some to her hubby on Groundhog's Day--anniversary of the day he proposed--and was a little disappointed when he ate all but one.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Alba, I love the idea of donating to a cause to celebrate Valentine's Day. Spread the love!

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy, this is a lovely post! And I'm with all of you 100%-- whatever you said! ::grin::

The Pool Boy is a real prince when it comes to Valentines. Cards, flowers, chocolate, dinner out. . . sometimes even jewelry. And of course a movie. I'm always hard-pressed to equal what he does, so I try to do something different and less traditional.

This year, I found we have yet another special facility near us. . . a national Lemur Conservation Reserve. Yes, the very lemurs that were made musical and comical in the animated movie "Madagascar!" "You got to move it, move it. . ." Sound familiar?

Anyway I bought us matching Lemur Conservation shirts and I'm taking him on a surprise trip to see the place and glimpse a few lemurs frisking around in the Wild. Okay, the ALMOST Wild. Don't tell him, okay?

Oh, yeah, I got him chocolate. A heart shaped box wearing a cute satin tuxedo and bow tie. Of course, he always SHARES. . .

Linda Henderson said...

I do think that they over commercialize Valentine's Day. When you don't have a significant other it gets shoved in your face that Valentine's Day is for couples. Frankly, I have a better time celebrating the day with my grandkids. They usually make me homemade cards and we spend time together. To me that's worth more than chocolates.

Kate said...

My general attitude towards Valentine's Day is indifference. That doesn't mean that I'm going to be scoffing at people who do celebrate it. I'll happily accept any Valentine's chocolate that heads in my direction but the day itself doesn't do anything for me, so I ignore it as best I can. (My partner doesn't always let me ignore it) There are plenty of people who thoroughly enjoy the day and I have absolutely no right to trample over that. Particularly not by jumping up and down and saying it's too commercialised.

Christmas is also commercialised and I celebrate that with an enthusiasm bordering on insanity. I even embrace much of the commercialisation. So what right have I to accuse other holidays of being too commercialised?

And like Christmas, I think a lot of people take Valentine's Day and make it their own. A couple might both be into extreme sports and they go white water rafting on Valentine's Day. That's hardly your bog-standard "Romance in a can". I think it's the stereotypical idea of what Valentine's Day is or ought to be that makes people resent it, not the day itself, if you know what I mean.