That’s what I’m supposed to wish everyone today, right?
I’m asking because I was at Target yesterday with a friend and she was looking for cards and candy for her husband and her kids. She was also looking for cards and candy for her kids, who are a toddler and an infant, to give to their grandparents. I’ve been living in America for a long time now and I know that Valentine’s Day is about getting cards and candy, flowers and gifts for those you love but I’d grown up thinking of it as giving cards and candy, flowers and gifts to ‘that special someone.’ Yes, one’s kids’ grandparents are special and getting a card for your toddler to give to your spouse is also a sign of love but Valentine’s, to me, was always about romantic love.
After work, and after picking up my niece from the airport, my wife and I went to day care and got our son. I stayed in the car with my niece, who’s here from England to attend a special K-Pop event in New York City this coming Saturday. When my wife and son returned to the car, my wife had a Valentine’s Day handout with the list of the day care students in our son’s class. It suggested that the parents bring in something, a small token, to distribute to all the kids to celebrate the day. I didn’t mind returning to Target to get something but I’ll admit that I was a tad surprised that we’d only been told about this the afternoon before the day. It’s for the kids, though, and they’ll have fun and learn about Valentine’s Day so, really, it wasn’t a problem or a big deal. It did, though, reinforce that Valentine’s Day is not just for boyfriends and their girlfriends, girlfriends and their boyfriends, girlfriends and their girlfriends, boyfriends and their boyfriends, or spouses; at least not anymore, anyway.
It also made me think that we celebrate too many holidays and we extend some of them - like Valentine’s Day - to include everyone. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s a financial thing and the marketers and product makers target everyone so they milk us out of our last dimes under the pretense that we’re doing something nice or celebrating something meaningful. Maybe it’s so no one feels badly, perhaps, because they’re left out of the party. It’s the same with being a physical education teacher. There’s such a strong push away from competition that, in my opinion, sports has become so anemic and everyone’s ‘a winner.’ There are winners and there are losers. That’s a fact of life. It also doesn’t mean that if you win you are a better human being than anyone else and if you lose you’re a lesser one. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be sensitive or that we should condone meanness. What I’m saying is, we should be honest. Like I said, not everyone wins. Sometimes, we are losers. Sometimes, the party isn’t about (the proverbial) you.
Going back to holidays, it seems that there’s one almost everyday. I’m not talking about religious holidays. The word ‘holiday’ comes from ‘holy day’ after all. If we really were going to celebrate the holy days then everyone’s holy days would be days off from work or school, without those who celebrate them needing to apply for days off to do so. For instance, in the interest of being sensitive and inclusive, why don’t we have days off for, say, Diwali or Guru Nanak’s Birthday.
I love a good celebration and the festivities that surround it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting down holidays and people’s need and desire to feel special and to have a good time. Believe me - anyone who knows me will verify this - when I say I like to have as much of a good time as the next guy. It just feels that holidays are shoved down are throats and even created for the sake of just having one. It used to be that Halloween items were displayed or sold until the middle of September and Thanksgiving stuff after Halloween. At the earliest, Thanksgiving items might start showing up mid-October. In 2011, Thanksgiving stuff started appearing in September as if Halloween didn’t exist. As for Valentine’s Day, I remember walking into my local Target a day or two after Christmas Day to see Valentine’s Day cards and such on display. Um, what happened to New Year?
I grew up believing that holidays had a religious origin and, because of that, they had much greater meaning than the cards and candy and lights and such that represent them. Maybe it’s in the naming that bothers me. Should some things even be called holidays? Maybe I’d be less at odds with this if they were referred to as ‘commemoration days’ or ‘national days.’ But, then, again do we need to commemorate everything? For example, February 1 is National Baked Alaska Day and January 31 is National Popcorn Day. Come on, really? Give me a break.
Anyway, I know this is a happy day and everyone’s loving everyone else and all that; and I am, too. I just think and feel that we’re over-killing the idea of what a holiday is and that, in turn, is taking away each one’s significance and meaning.
What do you think?