“What should we do for Valentine’s,” my partner asked me the other night.
Good question – what on earth should we do for Valentine’s? What are couples supposed to do? Well, according to the media and companies that cash in on these things, we’re supposed to go out and spend lavishly on a three-course meal in some fancy restaurant, buy each other stupid cards that say things like ‘I Wuv You’ (seriously?), exchange gifts, and somehow pretend that all of this symbolises what we feel for one another.
I admit, I didn’t know how to answer this question, so I asked him to surprise me, but it got me thinking – how do I actually feel about this holiday? How do I feel we should celebrate – or if we should, in fact, be celebrating it at all? At a loss, I decided to blog about it.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day – admittedly mainly negative. As someone who has mainly been single when February 14 has come knocking, I’ve never known whether my feelings of disdain were to do with the commercial nature of the holiday itself, or whether it was because I didn’t have someone to celebrate with. Then there was the less cynical part of me who saw nothing wrong with a day during which we celebrate love – the often forgotten emotion.
This is the first year that I feel like I can have a balanced opinion on the whole thing. I find myself in a relationship – a proper one, unlike my drunkard dalliances of years past, and I’m genuinely questioning whether I should give a shit about tomorrow or not.
One thing I do know, however, is that the window displays in all the malls are giving me nausea. Whichever capitalist bastard decided that hooker red and tacky looking velvet somehow symbolise love needs hanging, drawing and quartering. While I sincerely hope that all of these monstrous cuddly toys are geared towards teenagers, there’s a nagging voice in the back of my head that tells me that even adults buy into some of this.
Then you have the city’s restaurants that are offering all sorts of ‘romantic’ dining experiences. You can have dinner by the sea, dinner with views of the Dubai Mall fountains, dinner on a boat, dinner in a hot tub on a boat, and dinner made only with ingredients of the colour red (OK, I made most of them up, but I bet you they exist). You and your lucky significant other can have all this – no, in fact, you NEED all this just to show each other how much you care, and it’s all yours for a completely extortionate price that screams… ‘I L$ve Y$u.’
Somehow, the capitalist parade has made us believe that the amount you spend on your partner equates to how strongly you feel about them. So my problem isn’t with Valentine’s itself – it’s with the commerical nature of this holiday. However, when you think about it, aren’t ALL holidays now commercialised in some way or another? In the UK, for example, Christmas has completely lost its original meaning, as most people don’t celebrate the religious elements of it anymore. What people do, however, is spend stupid amounts of money on gifts, food and drink, and get into debt that they spend the whole year trying to pay off – all in the name of having a very Merry Christmas. How festive.
The holidays aren’t the problem – it’s the way that people today have somehow managed to be brainwashed into believing that they have to spend loads of money in order to celebrate them properly, which isn’t the case. Holidays add colour to our lives; life would be pretty monotonous if we didn’t have these occasions to look forward to. But do we have to turn them into ridiculous spending sprees?
Christmas, for me at least, is all about spending time with family. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if I get gifts or not – what matters to me is being with the people I love, eating a lot, and then giving in to a glorious food coma. I wish more people would slow down and think about how they spend in the run up to these holidays that only last a day. Love shouldn’t be expressed through giving expensive gifts – sure, it’s lovely to give and receive, and it’s a great way to show our appreciation for the people in our lives. But it’s more important that we spend wisely (i.e. what we can afford and not purchasing items courtesy of Mr MasterCard), and then enjoy quality time with our significant others.
So please, this Valentine’s, don’t give into the capitalist parade. Sure, do something to mark the day; we should celebrate love and show appreciation for the people in our lives. But do it in a way that actually means something, rather than in a way that screams “I’ve just spent cash for the sake of spending it.”
I’ve opted for a surprise this year, but I genuinely don’t care if we end up staying home and getting drunk together, as long as some thought has gone into it (i.e. the freezer better be stocked with ice, and a load of ciders need to have been bought). After all, it’s the thought that goes into things that counts.