Sunday, 14 February 2016

Material Romance

Valentine's Day approaches, and I find myself looking forward to it. At different points, I find myself being cynical and bitter about the commercialism that comes with Valentine's Day - and in fact, most holidays - and the entire notion of a day dedicated to swapping material things as a representation of romance, to me it takes a lot of the heart out of the holiday.
Now, I am not here to shit on anyone's traditions out of spite. If you like giving expensive gifts, or going to that fancy restaurant or eating those dreadful chalky candy hearts with the sweet puns punched into them, then go for it. Because, to me, this day is about feeling good, and feeling that togetherness, and if you enjoy the schmaltzy, saccharine, pre-packaged Valentine's Day traditions, then that means you're doing Valentine's Day right. However, there are people out there that find Valentine's Day stressful, and I honestly don't understand why.
The Word of the Day is: 'TRINKET'
Trinket /'tringkət/ n. Any small, ornamental article, such as a piece of jewellery, usually of little value.
To begin with, there are quite a few of us that do not have a significant other. Some by choice, some by chance & some by circumstance. For those people, I do understand it, even I once knew February 14th as "Singles Awareness Day".
But, to you, I say don't lose hope, there are others out there who seek to help. My Beloved was telling me that just the other day, she walked by an Anti-Valentine's kiosk in her university. They provided deliberately non-themed cupcakes and sweets for people who don't want to be bombarded by pink and heart-shaped pastry. Apparently it also offered discounts for the heartbroken, and the opportunity to throw pies at people's faces (but don't ask me how either of those work, neither I nor my Beloved quite understood how those would play out).
But, there is a growing number of people that are celebrating Anti-Valentine's Day during this sugary season. Now, I would hesitate to promote this as a good idea because I personally think the rise of the "Happily Single" person is one of the greater delusions of the 2010s, but I do think it's sweet that we cater for all people on Valentine's Day, even those without a significant other, in the interests of spreading the love.

But, within the realm of coupledom, there are also those who find it difficult to find a present for their boyfriend or girlfriend, for various reasons, and I entirely understand that. For me, I understand there to be three primary gift-giving Holidays in regards to your partner: Christmas, their Birthday and Valentine's Day.
And depending on their date of birth, this can cluster all of your gift-bearing into a small couple of months. Not to mention, as Valentine's Day is the "love day" it makes sense that whatever our gift may be it should in some way represent how we feel about them, and a box of tampons won't exactly cut it (unless they are, for some reason, related to the mythology of your relationship; I'm not here to judge).
So, people do worry themselves silly trying to find a gift, but . . . why? See, to me, I don't want my partner to stress, and she doesn't want me to stress; so, when we celebrate Valentine's, we actually talk about what we would want from the other.
I think of it this way, why would you celebrate your love for your girlfriend/boyfriend by doing something on your own? Even gift-giving, I mean, there is nothing about our relationship which I really do on my own, so why would I celebrate our love in secret? Why would I keep her gift hidden from her?
Now now, don't get me wrong, that is what works for us but my point is something will work for you two as well. See, if you and your love like surprises then yes surprise one another! If you have no money worries, by all means dig deep in the wallet and buy them a car or a theme park or a horse or a round-the-world trip.
Your love is not quantified by the price tag of your Valentine's gift, at least it shouldn't be, and if you are stressed about buying something either because you're low on funds or you're panicking about what to get them, then what you're really saying about your relationship is "I find this stressful and I don't want to do it, but I do it because I am expected to".
And hey, I understand . . . if your relationship is reaching a bitter end, I don't want to twist the dagger any deeper, perhaps this isn't the right blog post for you. But, if you are trying to make your relationship work, but you find Valentine's Day to be difficult in any way, shape or form . . . tell your partner.

See, even in a happy relationship, some people have the tendency to envisage Valentine's Day as a microcosm of their relationship, and that the weight of their entire partnership is weighing on their shoulders under the expectation that they will achieve the perfect gift, through sheer force of will, memory, necessity and tradition. But, to me, Valentine's Day is not meant to be about trinkets for their own sake.
See, for this Valentine's Day, I gave my Beloved some socks. Now, I put in the effort, I searched a good four hours non-stop in the search for the perfect pair of socks. Why? Because she wanted a pair of socks, and I wanted to give her a pair of socks, and I wanted to make sure that the socks I got for her would make her smile. This isn't because I had to, it's because I wanted to. Because I was happy knowing that she would be happy with the present she gave me.
Now, as to what my Beloved is getting me? I don't know, because I prefer surprises. I asked her specifically "Do you want me to tell you what I want?", because I knew she was busy, but she told me she knew exactly what she wanted to get me.
We are both happy with what we're giving and recieving. And even if I get nothing more than a penny, I will still smile and laugh and thank her immensely, because the very fact that she sent it to me makes me happy.

That's what Valentine's Day is supposed to be. The mutual exchange of gifts to express love. And if you and your partner both think that Valentine's Day is stupid, and you'd rather just go to work or live the day like any other day, then you're actually celebrating the day the way it's meant to be celebrated - you are expressing your love for your partner in a way that is honest and heartfelt, even if that expression is just "fuck Valentine's Day".

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and I hope you all have a happy Valentine's Day or Anti-Valentine's Day or Singles Awareness Day or Lupercalia or Ewok Festival of Love, depending on whatever suits your fancy.
Until next time, I'll be spending time with my Beloved, and looking for a way to write more blog posts more often.

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