Originally, I was going to devote an entire entry to the Valentine. You know, begrudgingly defending our lovey-dovey holiday, admitting that devoting time to affection isn’t a bad thing, eventually claiming that Valentine’s Day is worth it for what we make of it.
Then I realized that would be intolerably boring.
So I’m expanding my topic to include every “Hallmark Holiday.” So look out, Mother’s and Father’s Day, you’re getting lumped in too. Grandparent’s Day, Secretary’s Day, get over here. I’m even including holidays I’ve never heard of (Boss’s Day is a thing? And what the hell is Sweetest Day?)
All of these holidays have one thing in common. Who wants to talk about holiday commercialism?
First, I need to get something out of the way. Researching Hallmark Holidays has been weird. Bloggers who write about stuff like Valentine’s Day are, well…
Blogger Eleni Gage begins an entry about Valentine’s Day this way.
“I’m all for hating on holidays that make single people feel marginalized. Or any event that does for that matter. (Even as I type I can hear the voice of every lector at every wedding I’ve been to where the bride and groom have chosen the reading that starts “Two are better than one.” That may be romantic when you’re the couple getting married but when you’re the single friend with no plus-one you kind of want to hurl the program at the officiant’s face.)”
They’re not bad writers, per se. They just get a little, um… rambly. This particular one uses huge asides, like she’s suddenly engaging the wall in conversation while talking to you. But she still has a point.
Gage continues, “I’ve been (dateless) to too many weddings where I felt singled out and made to feel less-than by the readings or toast or first dance (“You’re Nobody ’til Somebody Loves You”–really? So it’s only because he married Mary Todd that we value Abraham Lincoln who otherwise would be just another gangly lawyer? Or Gandhi’s nonviolent protests are nice but you should really see his love letters? I think not.).”
I’ll start paraphrasing her. Those parenthesis are too much…
Gage talks about how Valentine’s Day is really about togetherness, whether that comes from following Valentine’s Day precepts or going against them via ironic “Love Sucks” parties.
“Too often single people feel left out on Valentine’s Day,” Gage writes. “But that’s not the holiday’s fault.” (No asides, good job!)
Gage has a good point. Valentine’s Day is about giving your loved ones tangible proof that you care. Even buying a stupid, simple card is about expressing affection. And really, that thought falls into every other “Hallmark Holiday” as well. Except Sweetest Day, that’s just about selling candy.
But let’s take that point further. Is commercialism itself really a bad thing?
Whether it’s Valentine’s or Secretary’s, these “Hallmark Holidays” force us to express how we feel about people. They’re a chance to be intentional in our relationships, which is something people aren’t always good at (begrudgingly points at self). We shouldn’t hate that fact, we should relish it.
Sure, the way people can be “forced” to buy things kinda cheapens the message. Vague guilt shouldn’t be the deciding factor, and it frequently is. But that’s not a problem with the holiday, it’s a problem with us. It’s a problem we can work to remedy.
However, I’ll admit sometimes we need to have our arms twisted when it comes to expressing emotion. No aside needed, I’m pointing at myself.
We may not like the “Hallmark Holidays,” but they aren’t really bad. In fact, when boiled down to the core, they’re actually pretty admirable. Commercialism makes them cheaper, but it cannot ruin them.
Now whether or not they’re tacky is a completely different argument…