Do you remember Valentine’s Day in the ’80s? ’90s? When you were just a wee one in school? It was fun, right? I mean, with Hershey Kisses, heart-shaped candies, and cute, store-bought “I Choo-Choo-Choose You” cards (for the whole class, of course) it was kinda the jam. It was a great excuse to talk to your friends and load up on sugar. And while the holiday was (and is) rife with problems — problems which are too weighty to get into in one, short 800-word piece — for young kids, Valentine’s Day was and always has been something of a treasure trove. I loved getting conversation hearts and Lisa Frank stickers. But sometime between then and now, things changed. Scratch that: parents changed, and today Valentine’s Day looks more like little Christmas.
Valentine’s Day was never meant to be Christmas 2.0.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Who is this pompous-ass person telling me how to spend my money — and the holidays? This woman must be nasty. Bitter. She has no soul. Plus, who cares? As the saying goes, to each their own. But I am bringing this up in the name of love. Let me explain.
You see, whether you love the holiday or hate it, Valentine’s Day is a day of romance. A celebration of affection, attachment, and amour. And while the origins of Valentine’s Day are dark — according to History, “St. Valentine” or Valentinus was beheaded by the Roman emperor Claudius the II — the purpose of the holiday (at least today) is to honor those we cherish, care for, and love. And video games and LOL dolls? Well, while my children enjoy these things, they are just that: things. They are toys. Objects. Items of pleasure and amusement, but not affection or desire or love. And while it could be argued that bestowing crap on my kids is an act of love, I prefer to teach them about meaningful relationships by having meaningful relationships.
We kiss, bake cookies, color, dance, sing songs, and hug. We talk about what it means to love someone, because love isn’t given in gift form. It is kindness and respect. Love is sympathy, empathy, understanding, and support. And we spend time together, as we should – as the meaning of the holiday suggests and implies.
But there are other reasons why Valentine’s Day should be toned down. You see, “things” are expensive, and not everyone can afford Christmas 2.0. Children who do not receive gift bags or baskets may feel less than when they’re talking to their friends, and that sucks. No child should feel unloved because they got Russell Stover’s instead of Roblox. Because they received a hug instead of one of the gals from Rainbow High.
Valentine’s Day should be toned down because it teaches children humility. There are other things in life we should be thankful for. Plus, sometimes the smallest gestures bring us the greatest joys.
Valentine’s Day should be toned down because no one — and I mean no one — needs the stress of another high-end holiday. The purchasing, wrapping, baking, making, and planning? It’s just too much. The bar is set too high.
Valentine’s Day should be toned down because it is just that: a day. Children need to learn that holidays can pass without elaborate celebration or fanfare. The greatest acts of love are personal. They come from the heart.
And Valentine’s Day should be toned down because (most) kids have enough stuff. After all, they get toys at restaurants, lollipops at the bank. Childhood is full of trinkets, toys, and things. And while I cannot speak for everyone’s children, my kids don’t need another toy they won’t play with. They don’t need another stuffed animal they won’t sleep or snuggle with. Oh, and don’t get me started on the shit kids bring to school.
Leave your extravagant Valentine’s Day goodie bags at home, Karen. The gesture is nice, but your one-upping is depressing and upsetting. Homemade and store-bought Valentines are fine. Throw on a sticker or lollipop, if you want to get fancy with it.
So call me Cupid’s curmudgeonly cousin, if you must. Refer to me as a bitter, nasty woman, if you will. And say what you want behind my back — or in the comments section on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — but maybe (just maybe) consider pulling back. Because our children don’t need things this Valentine’s Day, they need their friends and family. They need love, time, and us.
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