I don't think much of Valentine's Day.
In fact, I'm not all that enamored with certain holidays in general. If you think about it, except for New Year's Day, every holiday is made up. If you want to get really micro, you could say that since we randomly (well, not entirely, but you know) invented a calendar, even NYD is bogus.
MLK? A nice honor for a deserving man. Made up, though. We could have just as easily made a holiday for Gandhi, or Mother Teresa, or Harriet Tubman. All improved the human condition. The U.S. is the only nation that celebrates this.
President's Day? Only governments and banks celebrate this. Like MLK, it's strictly a U.S. holiday.
The Irish treasure St. Patrick's Day, and it's celebrated in many world locales that have an Irish connection. Technically a religious holiday, it's become an excuse for western celebrants to get loaded. I'm pretty sure no one actually remembers the religious context. Ditto for Mardi Gras. It's also based in religion, but now a reason to party.
Good Friday? A religious holiday; if you're not Christian, it has no meaning. At one time this was a day off. We do like our days off.
Memorial Day? This one I generally like the idea of, but in some ways it kind of overlaps with November's Veteran's Day (which at one point was called Armistice Day, in England it's Remembrance Day). Memorial Day commemorates military dead. It's honorable, although wouldn't it be nice if we had never had to have a day remembering those killed in conflict? Pretty sad. Veteran's Day (Nov. 11) honors those who serve. I'm grateful to these people, in almost every case. (Whenever I see a serviceman or woman, I try to make a point of thanking them for their service, as was the case with the handsome flyboy entering the Cambridge Chipotle Tuesday night.)
However, since both holidays cannot escape the relation to war and killing, they are hardly happy occasions. When was the last time you had a big Veteran's Day party?
July 4th is a sensible national holiday, but again... in other countries, it's just a mid-year day.
Some variant of Labour Day, recognizing the contribution of workers, is celebrated in most industrialized nations. Eighty nations mark International Workers Day on May 1 -- May Day. Naturally, we can't share date in this country with all those other lesser lights, so the U.S. celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of each September.
Columbus Day is for the Italians now, but it's not widely enjoyed by many states, which don't do much to acknowledge the explorer's discovery of the Americas. In fact, it's a little shocking that anyone outside of the U.S. would like this day that much, considering the destruction and slaughter the Europeans brought to the indigenous people of the New World.
Thanksgiving is another odd one; theoretically a celebration of the survival of our earliest settlers, who essentially screwed over Native Americans and were actually the continent's first illegal aliens, this holiday now is known as our official four-day weekend and the start of Christmas shopping season.
The Pilgrims would be so proud.
As previously noted, we all like our days off. However, the U.S. actually is one of the worst nations in the world for giving its workers paid time off. The indisputable paid holidays of New Year's, MLK, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas are only eight days. However, there isn't a single legal requirement for employers to offer ANY of those days paid, or off at all.
They do it because they want workers to think they've got it made. Employers will throw in a couple of "personal" days and some accrued vacation time to make workers think they're on Easy Street. Meanwhile, other nations laugh. Finland's workers get five weeks; godless, evil quasi-socialist hellholes like Portugal and Sri Lanka start at 22-28 days annually.
So holidays are bullshit. And Valentine's Day is the bullshittiest.
What I don't like about this one especially is that, there shouldn't be just one day marked to pay special attention and appreciation to the people you love. You should be doing that every day.
I get torqued at Christmas how people try and be all caught up in the season and kind and all. It's great. But why does it have to only happen for one month a year? Why can't we have that spirit in May, or in March? People have parties, workers go out for meals together... we could do that in September, you know.
Stuff like this contributes to the general perception some folks have of me that I am a curmudgeon. But I'm not. What I am is someone who thinks that we can do better, and BE better.
But we don't. We're lazy. We don't do the things that it takes to really show love and care for one another.
My valentine and I for a long time had a long-distance relationship. It was hard. Very hard.
But it was ultimately very good. Because in that situation, it really takes work to make it work. If you're lazy, you're not going to withstand the pressure, the loneliness, the temptation. You're going to cave in somehow.
Success in anything rarely comes without effort. If you're not good with people, ask yourself why? Have you done everything you can to make it work? Have they? Because it takes two.
That's what I'm thinking about on this lovely St. Valentine's Day, 14 February 2013.