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Valentine’s Day: Is it worth the hype?

Posted on 02.08.2017
Graphic by Andy Carr

Graphic by Andy Carr

PRO: This is coming to you from a hopeless romantic. A day full of bliss, happiness and love is quickly approaching. Valentine’s Day is a holiday that lets us all celebrate the love that we share.

But, let’s think back to elementary school. I remember how excited I’d get to go to the store to buy candy and find valentines for my classmates. The trick was to perfectly pair the cards with the right candy: Fun Dip was always a crowd favorite around that time. I’d eagerly sift through the cards, pairing each with its rightful owner’s name.

The next day, all of us kids would be on the edge of our seats, waiting for the teacher to announce that it was finally time to pass out our cards. It was kind of like the kid version of that scene from “Mean Girls,” in which Cady and her classmates are eagerly waiting for candy cane grams from Damian dressed as Santa, but without all the drama.

Over time, my love for this holiday continued to grow. You see, my family didn’t see this holiday as an occasion just for couples. To us, this day was for love and friendship all around. Ever since I can remember, whenever my sister and I would wake up to get ready for school on this day, we would find surprises like a bouquet of roses, a stuffed animal and a card from our parents waiting for us on the dining room table.

Not one year passed when my sister and I wouldn’t find gifts waiting for us. But it wasn’t just about the gifts. It was amazing to see how our parents would share that day with us. Even during the past couple of years, when I have been away from home to go to college,  I still get cards from my family.

My parents will celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary on Feb. 19, just days after this holiday. Each year, my parents make sure that both of these occasions are something special. On a daily basis I have always seen the love they share; and when February arrives, they come together to celebrate that love. It’s amazing to see that after all these years, my mom and dad  still find ways to surprise each other, just as they did when they first met.

Contrary to what some may think, Valentine’s Day can still be a great day if you’re single. I haven’t always had a significant other on this day, but I still have found ways to enjoy it to the fullest. What I love to do is treat myself. I will go out to the store and get some of my favorite foods and maybe some wine (now that I am of age) and stay in. When I get home, I play some of my favorite music, light some candles for ambiance and start cooking. Then I unwind on the couch to watch one of my favorite movies with a plate of food and my favorite glass of wine.

I don’t really dwell on the fact that I may be single and others are out celebrating with their significant others. I actually love hearing stories from others telling me how they celebrate this day. It makes me happy to hear about the choices they have made with their significant others or towards others.

Another great part of this day is sharing it with friends. Last year, I got together with a group of my single friends, and we got dressed up and treated ourselves. We went out for a lovely dinner and then headed back to my place to hang out. Now, this “group date” didn’t consist of bashing the opposite sex. Instead, we built each other up. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves, being out among friends while surrounded by countless happy couples. Instead, we were happy for them and happy for ourselves. We were together and spent a lovely evening over dinner and girl talk.

Valentine’s Day is a day of love, but  there are no restrictions that say love has to be only toward a significant other. Love is universal, whether toward a significant other, family members, friends, or one’s self. On this day, that love can be celebrated. This love can be expressed in numerous ways, from random acts of generosity towards others to buying an enormous stuffed bear that fits absolutely nowhere. This bear may become a prized possession because, let’s face it, for some reason, humongous stuffed animals make us feel some type of way.

Gestures of kindness on this day, are amplified. I remember bringing a coworker, who’s a single mom,  roses and a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day for her to share with her daughter, and the pure happiness it brought her made me happy. This day can be shared by everyone.

And don’t forget one of the best parts of Valentine’s Day: clearance candy. Any and all candy is beautifully decorated, and organized in Valentine’s Day-themed aisles. Some of it is even molded into heart shapes, making it even more irresistible.  If you’re worried about possibly breaking a diet, I’m here to tell you not to be. Valentine’s Day is a holiday, and calories don’t count, so enjoy this day to the fullest.

—Angie Mercado

CON: Do I believe in love? Absolutely. Do I believe in Valentine’s Day? Not really. Love is madness. Love is seeing the universe through a lover’s eyes. Love is an escape from the entropy all around us, immortalizing ourselves in the grasp of another human.  Love is looking through the window to a beautiful soul and telling it you love it with a reverence that cannot be questioned. Love is that divine space of soul sharing where two become one.

Love is a stuffed teddy bear. Love is a steak dinner. Love is a Hallmark card. Love is a social media soliloquy to let everyone else know how much you love your significant other. Love is tweeting at your significant other instead of telling that person directly.

Now I ask you, assuming that you only get to choose one: which of these do you choose?

I am not saying for certain that a person cannot have all of these things, but love and the millennials’ version of “keeping up with the Joneses” do not go hand-in-hand. My prying question is this: If you feel so obligated to express “love” on Valentine’s Day, what are you doing for your significant other the remaining 364 days a year? Love is an escape from the time flying by all of us, and if I want to express my appreciation for the beauty of another’s soul, I will not be doing so under the false pretense of a capital-driven holiday.

One issue is the ominous presence of boxes to check from the American Valentine’s Day. I am sorry, but if you are determining whether or not your boyfriend or girlfriend provides value based on the amount of material possessions acquired on a certain day, you’re doing it wrong.

Some would say it’s not about that. It’s about effort. I agree, effort is important, but real effort is taking the time to know the intricacies of another down to the markings of one’s skin and being utterly transfixed in awe.

Again, this can go hand-in-hand with a steak dinner, but the underlying desire to validate it via social media is not the answer. Why are you comparing relationships? Living according to the standards of another couple’s way of living doesn’t seem like a good idea. How about having a high standard for your own relationship to evaluate, develop and grow harmoniously with your significant other?

Of course one should take care of and express joy and gratitude for a loved one.  But, is that card going to solidify the relationship more than the way you look at them when they’re wearing sweats around the house? I am all for material possessions of value. But, possessions for possessions’ sake really don’t get you anywhere.

What do we really hope to gain from love this Valentine’s Day? Transcendence or validation?

Valentine’s Day should not be an Instagram-flooded day in which you compare your date with another’s. It is, however, an incredible opportunity to create a wonderful memory and be transfixed by the beauty of your love. But my point is this: so is every other day.

So all the hoopla about Valentine’s Day doesn’t really add up for me.

—Kyle McGinnis

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