Monday, February 14, 2005


Valentine, circa 1938, from collection of SWMBO’s late Dad.

By rights, I should look at St. Valentine’s Day with a jaundiced eye. Both it and Hallowe’en started out as pagan celebrations, later converted to Christian holidays by that fine process of assimilation and redefinition. As a Jew, I have no legitimate truck with either day.

But in America, the Great Leveling Ground, the religious aspects of both of these days have been ground off and worn smooth. They have become completely secular observances, steeped no longer in religion per se, but saturated in that greatest of American popular religions - the cult of merchandising. On Hallowe’en, it may be costumes, masks, and haunted houses, while on V-day it’s greeting cards, flowers, hotel rooms, and expensive dinners.

And chocolate. Let’s not forget the chocolate. Both Hallowe’en and St. Valentine’s Day are beloved of the chocolate industry, because on those two days doth their Annual Profit rise and fall.

And so, I have absolutely no qualms about Valentine’s Day observances. The “Saint” in St. Valentine’s Day almost seems archaic, so removed is the day from its former religious roots. No, it’s as good a day as any to remind our Significant Others that we love them...should the way we live our day-to-day lives not be sufficient to the task.

I have noticed, of late, a phenomenon I like to call “Valentine Bloat.” No, it’s not what you get when you eat that entire Whitman Sampler, or glom too much Godiva. It’s the growing tendency of people to send Valentine’s Day cards, gifts, et cetera, and what-not to all sorts of friends and relatives, not just “lovers.”

I’ll give you a fer-instance. She Who Must Be Obeyed got a couple of Valentine’s Day cards for us to send to Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm. Now, I love my girls unto death, but to me it seems a little strange for a parent to be sending a Valentine to a child. To me, Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love, not parental or filial love or even friendship. Am I wrong, or is the Collective Valentine Products Industry succeeding at selling us on the notion that all loving relationships - of whatever stripe - should get a tip o’ the Valentinian Toque on V-Day? Am I just being a grump, or am I right to restrict my valentining to She Who Must Be Obeyed - because it is She With Whom I Share The Marital Bed?

To whom do you send your Valentine’s Day greetings and candy?

* * *

Now, about my Valentine.

She has stayed with me through thick and thin, through our peregrinations that have involved four states, five towns, and seven houses, through more than half a lifetime. She has given me two children, young women now, than whom there are no finer walking the planet in my completely disinterested, unbiased eyes. She is a model of common sense and good old-fashioned horse sense. She is the apple of my eye, the spring in my step, the lead in my pencil (oh, yeah). She comforts me when I feel afflicted, nurses me when I am ill, laughs at my lame-ass jokes and general Silly Shit. She smiles, and the room lights up. When I am with her, I am twenty-five again. She is my best friend, the one I can always count on.

She is my SWMBO, and I love her.

No comments: