Every year at this time, cynics question the true meaning of Valentine’s Day. ?Oh, It’s just a shameless act of commercialism by greeting card companies, restaurateurs, florists and jewellers,? says one. ?My old lady knows I love her. I told her 20 years ago when we tied the knot. Nuthin’s changed,? says another. ?That better be the half-carat one? coos a lovely, ?unless you want to sleep on the couch.?
With Canadians and others holding record levels of personal debt, the idea of buying yet another token of affection on credit with money we don’t have is crazy. Most of us would be hard-pressed to remember what we got (or gave) last February. Most of us don’t actually need one more thing. Even if it is white gold.
And while there is an element of truth and common sense in all of the above, this is hardly a black and white issue. Does anyone ever tire of hearing, ?I love you, I need you, you make my life better?? Has any relationship ended because of expressed tenderness or appreciation? Or is the reverse true?
We all need to be aware of our credit scores and of what’s in our wallets and bank accounts. On the other hand, as someone who had a flower and gift shop for nearly 16 years I know first-hand what turns the gears of the economic engine. We need to spend?if we can afford it?because a healthy business is a taxpayer and an employer, maybe even your employer. So if our feelings are genuine and congruent with our behaviour the other 364 days, if we can afford it, and if our motives are pure, then this type of commercialization is good. And necessary.
Is there anything wrong with this annual reminder that we should be showing affection to the one dearest to us? It’s easy to become complacent or jaded or worn down and beaten up by the rigours of everyday life. It’s easy to take others for granted. It’s easy to reserve our best manners and behaviour for the world and neglect those closest to us. Being reminded is good.
?Til Debt Do Us Part TV host Gail Vaz-Oxlade includes a relationship challenge in every episode of her show. She forces couples who are in financial distress to find cheap or free ways to rekindle the romance that once burned. It may involve the guy making dinner for his wife or her packing a basket for a lunch in the park. It’s about the time and the effort, not the dollar value.
This week we can choose to celebrate with a random act of kindness to a stranger, spend time instead of money, buy something magnificent for our loved one, or just be grateful for the love we feel. If we choose wisely, we will honour our beliefs, hang on to our integrity, and spread the love in a way that makes sense for us. That would be good, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.