Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day Blues

Valentine’s Day is not usually a happy holiday for most. If you’re single, widowed, or even unhappy in your marriage or relationship, you feel it more on this day than almost any other, possibly with the exception of New Year’s Eve. The retail industry relentlessly bombards you with ads for jewelry, flowers, and spa days before Christmas day is even over. The stores aren’t much better putting out their V-day cards with funny and often mushy contents, red stuffed animals that often dance and sing, and miniature heart shaped boxes of cheap chocolates as they withdraw the Christmas items. 

Why does February 14 matter so much? A child exchanging valentines at the class party could measure his or her popularity or the lack of it through how many valentines he or she received. That’s why the Charlie Brown V-Day special with Charlie shaking his box in an effort to locate one card is especially poignant. Teachers send home instructions that students must bring valentines for everyone. That doesn’t mean everyone gets a valentine. Even if the mother painstakingly addressed twenty-eight cards using the provided list, the child could pull out one or two due to dislike. As a teacher, I’ve seen it happen more than once and usually had extra valentines on hand for such occasions. 

The media via advertising created the message  that no valentine equals no love. This message is so prevalent in the United States that I make sure to send my friends and family V-day cards. One in five people surveyed complained of feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day. Those were the honest ones, there may have been more.  Relationship issues cause 75% of suicides or at least that’s the note theme.

Men often break up before the 14th because they’re unsure how to treat the day. Many women expect expensive jewelry and a deeper commitment it represents. A friend of mine confided that she went out on a first date on Valentine’s Day. That must have been tough for the both of them with the couples crowding every restaurant and date venue.

Not all of them are happy, stars in their eyes, couple, either.  Apparently, 64% of men do not make advance plans. That means the super romantic date the woman expected may end up at Steak and Shake. Not that it’s a bad place. They’re even offering free milkshakes on the 14th. However, most men are aware whatever they do won’t be right.

On a recent local radio show, the caller called about Valentine’s Day. She commented her former boyfriend brought her roses, chocolates, took her out to nice places and even opened the car door for her, but she still dumped him. Men almost begrudgingly buy valentine gifts. No wonder they fall prey to last minute thinking and advertising. Their rush into the drugstore on the way home is the equivalent of streaking across the frozen tundra, unpleasant at best.

It isn’t surprising that forty percent of the population has negative feelings about the day. If you’re alone on the day, and you will be at some time in your life, then you could  feel like a loser. Someone who has to hide out as if a pariah. If your significant doesn’t pop for a desired item or an expensive item, often couples break up.  It’s amazing what ridiculous item the diamond industry will promote each year.  This year, it’s your initial picked out in diamonds.  People will buy them in hordes.

Another survey asked women what they really wanted. None wanted an initial necklace. Most wanted household chores done without begging. Others wanted the significant other to plan a date. Not one wanted a red stuffed animal that played music, rose-shaped bath soaps that gummed up the tub, or even roses.

In the end, being extra nice one day isn’t as good as being a decent human all year along. I suspect that is what most people want. As for my sweetie and I, we stay in and enjoy a special dinner on V-day not wanting to deal with the crowds and inflated prices. We do get each other a gift that shows how well we know one another, nothing red or decorated with hearts.

Do you think there’s no one out there for you. My book, Dating after Forty-eight is .99 and available on Nook, Kindle, Kobo, iTunes, and PDF on Smashwords. It’s also available in paperback too.