Love takes a holiday

Mar 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary

Jason McGill


Is there anything to celebrate on Valentine’s Day?

It’s the day when vans and trucks fan out to schools, offices, and homes across the country.

They carry the manifestation of our culturally approved affections, typically from men to women.

The women practice their reaction of surprise, embarrassment, and joy when the delivery comes.

The men secretly rehearse a nonchalant grin, masking their satisfaction at gaining approval.

All this daydreamt anticipation then comes to fruition on the fourteenth.

At some level, most adults are aware that Valentine’s Day is largely a creation of those that sell carnations, confections, and greeting cards.

It’s a way to prop up sagging sales between Christmas and Easter. It’s marketed as a celebration of idealized romantic love, the kind of love can only be expressed in white lettering against pink cardboard.

As dreamy as it is, this holiday also comes with a warning.

Only with trinkets can you expect to achieve this level of bliss. Only with tokens can you hope to keep your mate satisfied.

There is nothing new about advertising using worry and fear as motivators, though it is particularly crass to imply that the health of a romantic relationship might rest on buying some piece of jewelry.

But Zales and Hallmark make this hard sell only a few times a year.

Everyday is Valentine’s Day for drug companies, who are all too happy to make you sane, thin, and attractive.

Never mind that our jobs run us ragged while paying less money, that much of our food is garbage, that the human relationships we see again and again in our media are reduced to shallow caricatures.

Any depression, loneliness, or insecurity you feel is an illness, a chemical imbalance. We are Americans, after all, autonomous individuals, unaffected by our society.

And that insecurity, that fear is precisely the wedge that drives us and keeps us apart much of the time, perhaps more so for college students than others.

So much emphasis is placed on ‘my’ own achievement, my grades, my performance, my appearance, my career. Many of us will never be as freely self-centered as we are during our time here at school.

Answers are supposedly found by looking inward at the expense of looking outward.

Even as we walk the halls of this shrine to the ego, there are some few who try to bridge the gulf between us.

The deck is surely stacked against them. When people are plagued with insecurities, when our culture cherishes individualism, when people all around us forgo community, career, and family for self-satisfaction, it’s amazing that anyone bothers to build intimate relationships at all.

In fact, you might say it is worthy of a holiday.

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