Just when you thought it was safe to go back into a greeting card shop…
Yep, Christmas is gone, but now it’s February and that means one thing and one thing only: Valentine’s Day. (And, I suppose, Leap Year, but honestly, who can remember if it’s a Leap Year or not?). Valentine’s Day is the very definition of a Hallmark Holiday, an event dedicated almost entirely to filling the coffers of card companies who need something to occupy the gap between that awkward period between Christmas and Easter.
As such, it’s very easy to be cynical about this time of year. If you’ve got a partner, it’s another day you’ve got to celebrate in a fitting way and find the perfect present for. If you’ve not, it’s a bitter reminder of your loneliness and how you’re never going to find anyone ever and end up alone, endlessly surrounded by nothing but cartons of takeaway long since emptied by your ravenous need to fill your soul with something – anything – even if it is that third successive Gong Bao Chicken with extra Wontons….
Ahem. As someone who’ll be spending yet another Valentine’s Day alone, I share that pain (and predilection for delicious Chinese food and taste for horrible desperation… hey, are you doing anything tonight, fancy watching a film!? PLEASE!)
Well, it was worth a shot.
My point is that while it’s easy to be frustrated by Valentine’s Day, it’s worth resisting the urge. The holiday itself may have gotten bogged down in crass commercialism, but the message is important, perhaps more now than ever before.
Love is pretty significant at the moment. And I don’t just mean romantic, flowers and candy, beds squeaking in the middle of the night kind of love. I mean proper love – caring for someone and putting their needs ahead of your own. That love can be between siblings, parents and children, friends, colleagues, or strangers. And it doesn’t need a card or gift to validate it. Though if anyone fancies buying me this gigantic Disney book, I’d be fine with that.
Currently we have in power people who wouldn’t know what love is if it somehow developed a tangible form and shouted ‘I love you’ at them for the rest of time. These are people dedicated to pushing forward the exact opposite of love: hatred, division, discord. They’re dedicated to telling us that this person is different to that person and so is less deserving of your love than someone who’s ‘similar’ to you. No doubt these people will make a speech or write a tweet about how important love is and how we should all show it toward our fellow humans. One of these people will no doubt claim to have the biggest love, the most amazing love, the yugest love of anyone on the planet. Honestly, you haven’t seen how big and beautiful his love is.
But he’s a joke human being. A big joke, a yuge joke. Seriously, you’ve never seen…
Anyways, I digress. The point is, at times like this, showing a loving attitude to people is pretty much revolution. So do it. And do it your way. If you’ve got a significant other, show your love for them. If you’ve not, do something special for a friend or family member. Or maybe donate to an LGBTQ charity, or a cause set up to help immigrants and minorities. Anything. It doesn’t matter what exactly it is, just as long as it pushes out a little more kindness, love and compassion, because fuck knows we’ve got enough of the smog of hatred circling round our heads at the moment.
Me, I’ve bought a little gift for a friend at work as she did me the kindness of reading my short story. It’s a kindness I want to repay with thought and care.
Then, on Valentine’s Day itself, I’ll probably watch Disney’s short Paperman and maybe fling on Billy Wilder’s classic The Apartment, which asks its main character, and the audience, to be a mensch. “You know what the means,” we’re told. “A human being.” This Valentine’s Day, let’s all be human beings, love other human beings, and in doing so, maybe, just maybe, pierce a little hole in the smog of hatred.