Happy Valentine’s Day? …is such a thing possible?!
(originally posted as Pawprint, February 2011)
February 14 is, to my mind, the strangest holiday humans have ever come up with! It’s been around for something over 600 years (the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about it in the 14th Century!), and is named for two saints who were killed for their Catholic beliefs – certainly not anything mushy-kissykissy-romantic! But today, their names define a celebration of romance that is celebrated just about everywhere in the world!
But that’s not what’s strangest about it. What’s really odd is that there is so much pressure on everyone on Valentine’s Day!
I’ll bet most of you kids have parties at school where you’re expected to give Valentine cards saying “I Love You” or “Be Mine” to every other kid in your class (whether or not you actually like them!). You teenagers have the huge question of whether or not to give a card (or a flower, or chocolate, etc.) to anyone who you kind of like, or who kind of likes you. And for you adults who are still single, it’s worst of all! Do you send a Valentine to the person you had a really awesome dinner with last week, or is that uncool? And if you are in a serious relationship, or even married, just how much do you have to do that day? Have a romantic dinner? Buy flowers? Give presents that cost a months’ salary?!
Now I’m a dog, and don’t understand a lot about how you humans do this romantic love thing. But one thing I do know is that pressure is the most UN-romantic thing there is! If a kid has to give a Valentine to all the other kids, how does she show how much she likes her best friend? If a teenager has to worry about who to please and who not, how can he express, or even feel, romance?! And for adults, if it’s all about having to honor a day on the calendar, it’s not really about that person you love! After all, you could give him flowers any other day of the year – and it would come off as more special, right?!
But worse, this pressure can make Valentine’s a very painful day. I have a friend who was the “new kid in school” when she was in 3rd grade, and when the students exchanged Valentines, she didn’t get a single one! Have you ever known someone who’s been “dumped” on Valentine’s Day, because of all the pressure? It happens a lot! Oodles of heartbreak. It’s just too much!
So what can you do?! Stay in bed all day?!
Okay, I’ll admit: that sounds GREAT to me! But in the meantime, I have three suggestions.
First, in Mexico they call February 14 “Dia del Amor y la Amistad,” or “Day of Love and Friendship.” I like that! What if you decided that Valentine’s Day is a great day to work extra hard to treat everybody with love? Maybe tell everyone something you like about them, “I love your voice,” “That shirt looks great on you,” or “You’re funny!” (Or, as I usually say, “Wow you smell really interesting!”) Not only will it get you through this crazy day, but you’ll be so well-liked tomorrow!
Second, if there’s someone you’re really interested in, and you weren’t able to tell them about it before, maybe you can use this day to send them an anonymous Valentine! That’s where you sign it “A Secret Admirer” or something like that! That can be really exciting and romantic, even if you never tell them you sent it! (Though it can also be a disaster – what if you send it to her and she thinks another guy sent it… and that guy lies and says “Yes I did…?!” Oh No!!!)
And third, if you have a relationship with someone really special in your life, it’s great to make them feel loved by doing something for them on this day. But plan something else too. And tell them, “I don’t want this to just be about a holiday. I want us to do something special because we are a very special thing!”
Wow, my brain’s hurting! That’s a lot of thinking about human love!
So let me tell you what WE DOGS think about Valentine’s Day. First, EVERY day is a day for us to jump on people and lick them and tell them “We’re CRAZY about you! We’re SO excited to see you! We love you more than ANYTHING!” So V-Day is just another day for that. But we’d love it if maybe, because it’s a special day, you could tell us the same thing… extra! With extra hugs, with extra belly rubs, with extra kisses on the nose, and with extra TREATS!
(But remember, no chocolate! It’s bad for us.
Along with all the pressure and rules and expenses, yummy chocolate is one other thing that you people get to keep among yourselves on this crazy crazy day!)
Lots of Love!