Be That As It May: Happy Valentine’s Day

photographyMy newspaper column for this week:

There are Valentine Scrooges and Valentine Pollyannas. Reporter, Shelley Boettcher is a Valentine Pollyanna. She says that she loves “any excuse for people to tell each other they’re great, and any excuse to eat chocolate.” And she loves “heart-shaped things.” On the other hand, comedian Jim Gaffigan is Scrooge (before his enlightenment) come to life. Simply put, he wants to “get rid of Valentine’s Day as a holiday.”

I fall right smack dab in the middle. Kind of a Scroogey Pollyanna. Or Pollyanna with a little bit of an edge. I like heart shaped things and chocolate and an excuse to tell others they are great. But I understand Gaffigan’s stance too. After all, it is a made-up holiday–made up to separate you from your money for cards and candy and flowers.

We all remember the days of our youth, when as an art project in school we covered a shoe box in paper and lace and buttons and bows (if you were a girl—cannot remember what the boys did) and put it on the corner of your desk awaiting a bounty of paper valentines on that fateful day. Those were the days! Actually after a story I heard the other day—those were not necessarily the days. A very accomplished woman I know remembers those days with little fondness. Guess there was no tradition at her public school to use art class as a time to express yourself and make a box for Valentines. She said that at her school kids just left Valentines on the desks, and it seems the one who got the most was the winner. She only got two that memorable day, and though she is long over the trauma, she still remembers.

I like the idea of the box we fashioned for our Valentines even more now. If you did not receive many cards at least you were the only one to know as they were privately ensconced in cardboard for your eyes only. I remember when my kids were little, I made sure that everyone in their class got a card (with a candy or lollipop attached) – so no one was left out. I know that some feel we should not coddle our kids and they need to learn the hard lessons early—but I am not of that school (and to this day I thank teachers who sent home a list of the names of the kids in the class—perhaps a subtle hint—but one that I appreciated).

Shelley Boettcher, lover of all things Valentine was asked to be the pro in a pro and con story for CanWest. I wonder if she lost a bet and drew the short straw for this story—but she did a fine job in making Valentine’s Day palatable. Her response to the usual protests against the holiday was “Whatever.” She likes the cards, making heart-shaped cookies, and eating heart-shaped pizza. She fervently believes that Valentine’s Day is “an opportunity to slow down our busy lives and tell our friends and family that we love them.”

She says it is the simple things the day brings that are the most precious: ‘a homemade card from your kid, a chance to sleep in (if Valentine’s Day happens to be on a Saturday, which BONUS, it is this year), heart shaped latte art, cinnamon hearts and kisses.” She believes that the only thing that can spoil the day is a “thoughtless gift” but makes it clear that chocolates and flowers are not in that category.

Jim, on the other hand, thinks that Valentine’s Day is “a litmus test on the status of my relationship”. He voiced his dislike (dare I say disdain) for the holiday on CBS Sunday Morning, and after hearing his diatribe one went away with the feeling that he is a guy who finds the whole thing distasteful. Literally. He describes the candies with the words like love and hug inscribed on them as “heart shaped chalk antacids”. He says that eating the chocolates in heart-shaped boxes is a gamble as there is no guarantee that you are not going to get “one filled with toothpaste” and the only way to eradicate the taste is to “eat nine more.” He also thinks it makes being single “brutal” as it just reminds you that you are alone; and he says it is no better for couples—to him Valentine’s Day is just “another opportunity to fail.”

I think my sister sums up the day perfectly in a comment she made on my blog last year when I wrote about Valentine’s Day. She said “I just like to be remembered, whether it be a card or chocolates or flowers or all three. It is the thought–and I mean this, just to know he (her husband Herb) cares enough to take a little time out of his day to think of me as his Valentine.”

Give me your good Valentine memories….

Published in: on February 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm  Comments (18)  
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WWHGD? or What Would…………….Do?

This is my Valentine offering for my weekly newspaper column. Thought I would share it with you:

  I claim there ain’t
Another Saint
As great as Valentine. ~Ogden Nash

                I am of two minds when it comes to Valentine’s Day. My romantic sensitive self wants roses and chocolates. My sensible self scoffs at being manipulated to want roses and chocolates. What to do, what to do? According to timeanddate.com, Valentine’s Day was promoted in the mid-nineteenth century by manufacturers of paper lace and cards as a “means of increasing their sales.” As Gomer Pile used to say: “Surprise, surprise.”

                I thought I would get a male perspective on Valentine’s Day, so I conducted a little interview with Mr. Everyman:

 1. Q: Do you like Valentine’s Day?

A. It serves its purpose. When I was “wooing” my wife, it served as a way to show her I loved her—actually let me tell the truth—if you are dating someone, and you do not get them anything for Valentine’s Day, it has been my experience that on February 15th you are a lonely man. Now to answer your question—no, I do not like Valentine’s Day—there are too many expectations and many men are just not up to the task.

2. Q: Do you like getting gifts on Valentine’s Day?

A: Yes. I have never figured out why it is such a female-centric holiday, though you can forget the roses—who wants something that dies in a few days? I love it when my “significant other” makes me a special meal.

3. Q: Have you ever made your wife a special meal?

A: Um………….

4. Q: Never?

A. Yeah, yeah I have—steak and baked potatoes and salad with little chunks of cheese. But the piece de resistance was my bacon wrapped smoked oysters. Won my wife over with those. She thought I could cook—boy I had her fooled.

5. Q: So, what are the origins of Valentine’s Day in your mind?

A: The card companies and flower companies and candy companies all got together and thought there should be a yearly holiday featuring their wares—after Christmas and before Easter there was this big gap and they had trouble putting food on the table. Then the jewellery stores got into the picture and there was no going back.

6. Q: Ever heard of St. Valentine?

A: Yeah, he is second cousin to Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy’s brother.

7. Q: What did you get your wife this year?

A. Well, times are a little hard…………..

8. Q. You mean you aren’t getting her anything?

A: Yes, yes of course—I just have to put a little thought into it…………..*Did you know that the middle of February is thought to be the time that birds choose their mates?  And that around 1380 Chaucer wrote a poem for the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia and that is thought to be the first association between celebrations of romantic love and St. Valentine’s day?

9.  Q: Are you changing the subject on purpose?

A: No, no—just a little trivia—I get tired of all the Saint Valentine stories at this time of year. And who came up with Chubs, I mean Cupid—what a weird little toddler. A cherub with a bow and arrow was someone’s idea of a good image for romance? Bad branding, if you ask me………..

10. Q: Do you have a romantic bone in your body?

A: I think they took it out when I had my appendix removed. My wife did get me a WWHGD (what would Hugh Grant Do?) bracelet though and I think it is starting to work. I have to dash now to florists’, and grab a box of chocolates at the drug store………

                There you have it—the only answer that resembles my husband is number four. I really did think he could cook. Don’t tell him I told you this but one of his favourite movies is Love Actually, and one Valentine’s Day (a long, long time ago) he put different coloured bouquets of roses in several rooms of the house and he placed the requisite (and much appreciated) box of chocolates in a beribboned red heart-shaped box beside one of the bouquets.  I am hoping for an encore performance at some point.

                Unlike Mr. Everyman, I like cut flowers, even if they are short-lived (but on my more cynical days, I may hold some of his views.) Happy Valentine’s Day to all and to all a box of chocolates!

*trivia from timeanddate.com

Published in: on February 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm  Comments (46)  
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So What Do You Think?

Love Stinks

Love Stinks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This fine day after Valentine’s Day is being celebrated in a questionable manner in some corners of the world. I join the legions who do not like the commercialization of love,  cheapening it by pressuring us into buying roses and diamonds and chocolates (seriously though how bad could a day be that supports chocolate?) But, are we so delicate that we cannot withstand this barrage?

Kudos for those of you who just ignore the hype. Equal kudos for those of you who enjoy it. No kudos for those of you who try to derail it by throwing anti-Valentine parties. The headline this morning in my local daily reads: “Kissers, Cuddlers Not Welcome”. A local bar is throwing an anti-Valentine’s Day party tonight and they have banned “public displays of affection” calling them “strictly taboo” at their annual event.

Most of us have loved and lost. Many of us are in wonderful relationships—but we remember when we weren’t. But is that any reason to be so anti-love? I am not really comfortable with public displays of affection at any time—but showing a little affection should not be eliminated for the sake of broken and jaded hearts. My favourite song was once the  J. Geils Band’s  “Love Stinks”. But it was a phase, and I did not resent those who had found love—in fact I found it heartening.

I say to those who are anti-Valentine—get over yourselves. There is no bliss in negativity. What do you think?

Cupid Sometimes Misses Mark

Love

Love has many guises (Photo credit: praram)

We all see them. Ignore them if you will. But little pink and red hearts have been floating around since mid-January, and what else could it mean other than that celebration that starts some hearts a-fluttering, and some hearts to drop.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the day, depending on my relationship status. Some years I would ignore it, some years embrace it, and other years look on it as an annoyance. This year I will celebrate my 31st wedding anniversary, so I have come to blissful terms with it.  But, I am still somewhat flummoxed by the fact that males are on the hook for this holiday for some reason, and females get a pass. It is a mystery.

I have decided to think of Valentine’s Day as I think of the month of February. I am not going to fight it. I have come to the comfortable conclusion that it is a day to show others that you care, a day to remind of us of romantic love—captured, lost, or remembered, and a day when we should look beyond the flowers and chocolates and jewellery to the heart, and to friendship, and to genuine caring.

Maribeau, a French revolutionary and journalist sums up my feelings on romantic love quite neatly. Call me a sceptic, a cynic, or a hopeless romantic, this is what he said:

“Love has the power of making you believe what you would normally treat with the deepest suspicion.”

So what do you think of Valentine’s Day? Do you think Maribeau was right? Is Valentine’s Day a blissful day for you, or an annoyance?

Published in: on February 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm  Comments (82)  
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