When most people (except perhaps absent-minded husbands) hear the words February 14, like Pavlov’s dogs, they think of Valentine’s Day. The images conjured up include heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, bouquets of red roses, tiny jewel boxes and over-sized, over-priced, glittery greeting cards.
How the guy reacts to these calls to action depends on where on the relationship timeline (love at first sight versus old married couple) they fall. Any man worth his salt will damn well see to it that he buys at least one out of the four markers of affection. If he knows what’s good for him.
Naturally, I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The pressure to express one’s love in a retail way is relentless and (almost) as intensely directed at females. If and how much money is thrown at the cause will depend on the couple and their circumstances. But having the annual nudge to think about our relationships and how to show our affection can’t hurt.
But did you know that February 14th is designated for at least four other causes? Most frivolous is Ferris Wheel Day, but I’m not likely to celebrate that one, never having been on one and, sure as hell, never going to try. The intention is to acknowledge the 1893 invention of this amusement park attraction by civil engineer George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.
Animal lovers may or may not know about Pet Theft Awareness Day. It was designated in the United States in 1988 and seeks to raise understanding of the reality of pet thefts. About two million pets are stolen annually in the States. Preventive measures include pet identification strategies like the implanting of microchips or tattooing. If publicity about this day reminds pet owners to take action then it is worth it. A great deal of grief would be alleviated in the process.
Home-schooling parents in particular are urged to celebrate Read to Your Child Day, but it affords a good reminder to all parents about the critical importance of reading to every child every day. The adoption of the reading habit by everyone regardless of age would enrich the world and might eliminate some problems without any extra measures. Reading levels and illiteracy have been linked to crime stats.
But perhaps the most important reason to pay attention on February 14th is Donor Day. The heart symbolism so interwoven with Valentines Day has some relevance here. The altruistic act of donating blood, platelets, marrow, tissue or organs definitely has a heart connection and is a selfless expression of love and generosity. The Saturn Corporation and the United Auto Workers Union started it in the US in 1998. Governmental and non-profit groups use the day to promote blood drives and the signing of donor cards.
From my perspective your day schedules itself: after a trip to the vet clinic, sign your donor card, re-watch the video of you shrieking on the Ferris wheel, and read a bedtime story to your kid before heading out for dinner with your loved one. Easy-peasy, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.