ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR
Valentine’s Day is a tricky holiday. I am not referring to the difficulty of finding a gift or picking a restaurant either. I mean that it literally tricks you. Why? The first reason is that it inherently frames your mind and can cage your creativity.
I know what you are thinking, and the answer is no, I am not a heartless cynic here to destroy everyone’s views on Valentine’s Day. I love Valentine’s Day. I love love. I just struggle with what is conveyed through many of this holiday’s traditions. This brings me back to the original point about placing your mind in a box with regards to the idea of love.
We are taught from a young age about certain concepts like secret admirers and associating candy with Valentine’s Day. I mean what says love like a box of purple and pink Nerds? Or even the classic Sweethearts with those messages like “Kiss me” written in red? I feel like we should get rid of secret admirers all together. We should teach kids to be brave and freely communicate their love because the taboo on freely voicing our affections leaves people living in love limbo for months. Life is too short to live that way.
As for the candy, I’ll admit it is pretty harmless. But it does begin to associate love with trivial gifts. When candy loses its luster, people move on to stuffed bears, roses, and heart-shaped balloons to show they care. These can all work really well as supplemental gifts, but they are too generic to function alone. There is no substitute for a thoughtful gesture or a gift that is the culmination of careful listening and attention paid to a loved one. There are a lot of different kinds of love out there, but the one thing that distinguishes your love with another person from all of the others is the time that you have spent together and all that has been shared. So if you’re looking for a gift idea, just do something to show you’ve been present.
The other misinterpretation of Valentine’s Day is that it is exclusive. There is an idea that it is reserved for love that already exists. Love is not exclusive and it does not have to always be romantic. In a world flooded with love notes and giant red hearts, we forget that we all have the potential to love and the potential to be loved. We just have to act. Because I have seen love and it does not always look like the bride and groom at the top of the wedding cake.
It looks like the man serving soup to the homeless. It looks like the student helping the blind man get to class. It looks like the person comforting a crying friend. There are a million ways to love and seven billion people that need it. Let’s all love on this Valentine’s Day.