Saturday, February 1, 2014

On Valentine's Day

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This year, for the first time in a long time, we will be celebrating Valentine's Day.

I've been kinda anti-Valentine's Day for nearly a decade.  I've always said that I think it's dumb to have this pressure to have a romantic evening and I really dislike what it seems to do to single people, especially since I have hardly given it a second thought most of my life.

This outlook was also partly linked to the fact that 10 years ago this February 13th, I lost a good friend in a car accident.  And since it was a Friday (I don't consider myself superstitious, but I am definitely very aware of any 13th that falls on a Friday) and when you are in school all, weekend holidays are celebrated on the preceding Friday, this event was very strongly associated with Valentine's Day.  So I more or less used my stance against commercially-fueled holidays to stay away from an unhappy memory.
I still do have issues with what Valentine's Day is made into by industries, but I also have issues with what Christmas and Easter are made into and yet I wouldn't stop celebrating them.  In the past couple of years I have been making a concerted effort to better follow the calendar of the Christian year which includes observance of some less mainstream holy days and feasts.  This practice serves as a good reminder that though it is true that dedicated days for certain remembrances or celebrations are not 100% required in life, doing so can be extremely beneficial.

Last year I wrote about the importance of celebrating Mother's Day--not because the greeting card industry told you to do it, but because no matter how often we say that "every day should be Mother's Day", the fact remains that is not.  And the chances of any single person treating his mother like it's Mother's Day every day are slim to none.  So we institute a day for it--to remind ourselves, to remind our mothers, of how important they are to us.

Valentine's Day is similar.  No, my marriage will not go on the rocks without it, but it's easy for me to say we can have a romantic day any day and then never get around to making it happen.  So the holiday forces me to do it.  And it also forces me into community with others.  We are all celebrating love, together.

Again, I might take issue with how Valentine's Day is portrayed or celebrated by others (as a Catholic, it is in fact a day for St. Valentine), but I believe that the pervasiveness of the celebration of Christmas is an opportunity for Christians to share our feast and our faith with others so I'll look for the same optimism again this month.

We won't be doing anything major (we plan to have dinner at Friendly's--an incredibly casual, family dining experience in the northeast), but I plan to move forward with the celebration of this holy day this year with joy and in community.

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