By: Keith Stefanko, R.N. Okay, so I’m just going to say it, St. Hallmark’s Day…otherwise known as St. Valentine’s Day in the 21st century, has become a crock!
Want to hear some terrifying statistics? What used to be a “cute” little holiday when I was kid, made up of teachers helping us to cut our paper hearts on colored construction paper, and handing them out to everyone in class – plus a few extras for parents, siblings and relatives…has now become a commercial burden on society:
Between $140 and $190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year (excluding the untold number of the above-mentioned cards school children exchange).In addition to cards, Americans spend an average of $131 per person on chocolate, flowers, jewelry, unique gifts and special dates expressing undying love for a special person.Read more on this and a fantastic article by Karen Graves, Ph.D. at: http://www.mayersonacademy.org/what-is-this-thing-called-love/
So, here’s a little perspective on just the first bullet-point – Have you seen the cost of a greeting card these days?! Personally, I can’t recall a time in recent memory when I spent less than $5.00 on a single card of any kind! That makes a card or two for my parents (Valentine’s Day is also their anniversary), two for my wife and one from the dogs to my wife (yes, I know) something of the equivalent to a good meal out – and we haven’t even gotten to that expense yet!!!
I went to buy my obligatory cards the other day, thinking I was being a good husband and son by getting them about a week early. I then went card shopping again with a co-worker the Friday before Valentine’s Day. The cost of his very basic Happy Valentine’s Day to My Wife card at Hallmark? - $10.00 and change! Considering the fact that my friend is an attorney married to an attorney, imagine what the societal obligations are for him to spend money!
Another co-worker (also an attorney) recently said something that I’ve heard for decades, “So, when I rush to the store Valentine’s Day morning before my wife wakes up, how much will I end up having to spend?! In my estimation, buddy, enough to cover maybe 2-3 pretentious, overpriced restaurants and a primary limb of her choosing!
And I really felt bad for the poor schlub I saw this Valentine’s Day while I was driving home from my parent’s house. It was right around dinner time, and he was crossing the road on foot, after he’d walked to – and bought flowers from – the roadside station wagon selling flowers and stuffed animals in the middle of absolutely nowhere - probably just in time to realize his wife wasn’t cooking a meal for them that night for some strange reason! (I’m not kidding)! I honestly hope he survived sneaking back home with flowers, no card, and likely, no dinner reservations.
I’m also dismayed by the TV commercials that start around January 15th, warning other men like me to start buying diamonds, gold, luxury vehicles and exotic vacations for this all-but-fake “holiday.”
So, how can we make Valentine’s Day a little less commercial, and little more meaningful, in today’s crazy material-focused spend-fest?
To begin with, make this day that is set apart to celebrate love about someone other than yourself or your spouse. As I stated earlier, Valentine’s Day is also my parent’s wedding anniversary (63 years and counting), which overshadows anything else my wife and I might be planning – especially in the twilight of their years here on earth together, and with us. A date with my wife just doesn’t compare to the joy of honoring them for a marriage you don’t see every day, especially these days. Here are the two Love-Birds:
Meet Robert “Bud” and Marilyn Stefanko – two of the most unlikely people to ever fall in love! Dad was the tattooed sailor with the hard partying, guitar playing, not-so-PC mouthed, opinionated, bull-headed teddy bear (he doesn’t want you to see that side) you’ve ever met. Mom is the small town, Christian-living, quiet, fiercely loyal, sweetest angel (the family calls her St. Marilyn) you’ll ever meet. What better set of folks could we spend some time and money to celebrate love with?
Well, since you’re probably not invited to their house every SVD, perhaps you’d consider some other options?
I have some dear friends who’ve made it their mission to serve others each St Valentine’s Day. a
Yep, that’s right. They teach their little daughter the value of such moments by having her help make treats for widows and widowers. Or how about the friends (unmarried singles) who donate their time watching other couples’ kids so that hard-working soul mates can afford babysitting AND a night out?
8 Inspiring Suggestions To Assist Your Creative Juices As You Consider Celebrating A Meaningful Valentine’s Day
*The church youth group that makes Valentine’s cards for the local senior center. *Kids that decorate placemats for the Meals-On-Wheels program. *Food drives for your local church, school or organization helping those in need. *Collect all the DVDs and video games that can be donated to the local children’s hospital game/family room. *Help clean up, brush, and feed all the critters at the animal shelter. *Stuff some new, warm socks with food and hand them out to the homeless. *Do some yard work for your neighbor. *Volunteer for your local Special Olympics event – or just go cheer them on with some creative signs and banners you make together.
When you’re all finished for the evening, sit down to a nice hot-dogs-on-the-grill meal together. Maybe play some board games while you discuss what actually happened today during your efforts…and be quick to listen to what your kids might say to the question,
“How do you think all of that effort will help those people in the coming days?” and, “Are you tired in a good way now?”
My late buddy, Bob, used to rail against all of the faux holidays Hallmark was responsible for. But I bet if he could see it now, in the hands of a generation that is rejecting the greedy materialism we grew up under, he would think that there might yet be some hope of a meaningful future for this holiday.
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