The day after Christmas, in our supermarket, they were putting away the Santa gift wrap and bringing out the heart shaped boxes of candy. Less than a week before Valentine’s day the newspapers and on-line sites are filled with ads targeted to getting me to purchase jewelry, flowers, candy, perfume, furniture or a salon visit and to make reservations for THE special night at a restaurant or hotel.
Since the powers of commerce have figured out how to fully commercialize the birth of the savior and intrude candy and clothing into the celebration of resurrection, is it any wonder they are working hard on commercializing one of the minor legendary saints?
Valentine, according to the legend I have heard, was a Roman Christian who was arrested during a persecution, and was condemned to death for his faith. Prior to his execution he sent letters to those he loved (one legend says to children and another legend says it was to the jailer daughter) signing them “from your Valentine.”
I am more impressed with the legend as an expression of what love means than I am with what has been created from it. In the valentine industry we are told love is a feeling you can create or cultivate through gifts. The subtle innuendo is that the more expensive the gift the more love will result. (“Every kiss begins with Kay” the jewelry the commercial states.)
Love, I have come to believe, is not so much a feeling as it is a way of acting and living. It is a verb and not a noun. Love cannot be bought by diamonds, clothing, chocolate or flowers. Love itself is the gift. What we call “falling in love” is actually infatuation – which may in time turn into love. But of that there is no guarantee no matter how expensive and frilly a card you send.
So do I celebrate Valentines Day? Yes, I use the day as one of many during the year on which I express my appreciation to and for Nancy. Sometimes there are cards, flowers, a dinner, or candy and sometimes not. It is not the token that is important. What is constant, what is a part of this day (and I hope most days) is gratitude and my daily decisions, as best I am able, to do those things and to become that person that are best for Nancy, as she does the same for me.