2013-02-14

How To Have A Happy Valentine's Day

I have never really understood why single people hate Valentine's Day. Even when I was single - indeed, even when I was soul-crushingly single - I always understood that Valentine's Day was a fun day set aside for lovers to be happy that they are lovers. Today, I'd like to spend some time appreciating it.

It's Not You, It's Them: All Criticism Against Valentine's Day Is Either Stupid Or Mean-Spirited
One argument that consistently pops up is that Valentine's Day is a corporate concoction created to sell a bunch of useless crap to us hapless fools who can be duped into buying anything, just because some evil suit has given us a passable excuse. There are many problems with this idea, but I think my principle objection to it is that I don't find any theory very convincing if its principle basis is that most people in the world are idiotic sheep. I'll even take that a step further and say that any theory that requires us to think highly ill of other human beings is hateful, short-sighted, overly simplistic, and basically dismissive of life's complexities.

Another criticism of Valentine's Day is the idea that people who "really" love each other do not require a "special day" to express that love; they will express their love any time they feel like it, and make that a regular occurance in their relationship. This is a tempting argument to believe because there is nothing false about that stand-alone statement. Where it falls flat is that there is an implication couched behind these words that it is wrong to use Valentine's Day as one such excuse to express the love we feel for each other every day.

That's pretty stupid. Just like someone who loves to drive will think up any excuse to take his roadster out to the grocery store or the mall or the hardware store or pretty much anywhere else he has to drive, someone who loves to express love will do so in the fact of any imaginable excuse. If there were a "national drive your sweet roadster day," you can bet that sportscar enthusiasts would be out on the road, spending their money on gas and having the time of their lives. This isn't because they're driving under false pretenses, but rather because even a stupid excuse to do what you love to do is a good excuse - because life is all about doing what you love to do!

And I can think of something that pretty much all human beings like to do more than almost anything, something that involves boxes of chocolates and sparkly jewelry and novel underwear and fancy sheets. No, we certainly do not need a dedicated "Valentine's Day" to practice this extra-curricular activity. But then again, any excuse is a good excuse to do what you love to do.


The other major criticism of Valentine's Day is that it is a terrible, depressing day if you are single, because it underscores the fact that you don't have anyone with whom to share in the celebration. This criticism strikes me as being incredibly mean-spirited. Just because Peter doesn't have a girlfriend doesn't mean Paul should not get to be happy with his. Similarly, just because Ted does not have any friends doesn't mean that Terry should never be able to spend time with his large circle of friends. Likewise, just because Shelly cannot golf doesn't mean that Sharon never should. Just because Amy is poor doesn't mean that Annie shouldn't spend a part of her millions on luxury goods that make her happy. Just because Ryan is cursed with type 1 diabetes doesn't mean that Reggie shouldn't go out and eat some ice cream and enjoy his long life and functional pancreas.

The fact is, people deserve to be happy. We all have our fair share of unhappiness and bad luck to deal with in life. Some of us even have to deal with much more than their "fair" share. But this is no argument against the rest of society enjoying a happy, fun-filled, carefree existence. And because this is true for every second of every day, then it is also true for every second of that one day that we call Valentine's Day.

But Wait! There's More!
The Valentine's Day haters are enough to get under a person's skin on Valentine's Day, and hopefully you have found my dissection of their preposterous arguments useful and uplifting. But the assault on Valentine's Day also comes in a far more subversive form: children.

I know, I know. They are precious little dears, aren't they? So cute, so innocent, so wide-eyed and wonderful. I don't disagree. But the thing is, if you invest too much time on your child's Valentine's Day experience - with its candy hearts and Snoopy Valentine's Day cards and its pink and red construction paper - you are basically going to ruin one of the most romantic days in the year.

It is tempting to make every holiday about "the children." Christmas is about the children. Independence Day is about the children. Thanksgiving is about the children. Even Mother's Day and Father's Day are inexplicably all about the children. Gosh, we love to capture their experiences on video tape and stuff. That's great, it really is.

But Valentine's Day should not be about the children. It should be about the adults. Why? Because romance can only really be appreciated by people who have achieved a certain base level of maturity. You're not going to find yourself in the right Valentine's Day headspace if you're sitting around saying, "Gosh, gee whiz, wasn't it cute when my little Bobby passed a piece of construction paper over to your little Suzy?" Sure, it'll warm your heart, but - forgive me here - Valentine's Day is about warming a little more than your heart. It's about igniting your heart and pretty much anything else your heart is connected to.

And cutesy isn't passionate. So knock it off. Your relationship will be much better if you set aside one day of the year to explode in unabated passion.

There is a reason for this. It's called happiness. As I said above, people deserve to be happy.

Oh God, Oh God! So Much Pressure To Live Up To!
At this point, a small subset of you are getting all freaked out because you now think that you "have to" explode in unabated passion this Valentine's Day, and you're not sure if you can live up to that expectation. I mean, what if you try to explode, but you screw something up? What if you're not sure what you'd like to do will work? What if you can't find any nice restaurant that will take a last-minute reservation? What if you're feeling self-conscious about the holiday pounds you haven't yet fully dropped? What if...? If...? What...? But...

Just take it easy. Stop for a moment, clear your head, and then think of the ten most passionate experiences in your lifetime. To be sure, a few of those experiences will have involved something fancy, like a beach vacation, or a big wedding, or an expensive exchange of gifts, or whatever.

But at least some of the experiences on your list will involve some stupid, insignificant set of circumstances that were no great production at all. At least some of those experiences are things that could easily have happened on basically any Tuesday. Or at least any Saturday.

It doesn't take much to have a happy Valentine's Day. You don't need a lot of imagination. We've all seen movies. We've all read books. All you really need is two willing participants.

Not sure where to begin? Here's the best tip I can give you, considering that I think it's best for people to pretty much figure these things out on their own: Go find that person you're thinking about right now and stand close enough to each other that you can feel each other's body heat. Think about it as it happens. Then just stop thinking. The rest is going to take care of itself, guaranteed.

Conclusion
So you are now armed with a crushingly effective argument against the haters. You are aware of the fact that you don't need to put heaps of pressure on yourself. You (hopefully) have a willing participant. And, you have an excuse to make your heart do a little racing today. 

So, for heaven's sake, stop reading my blog.