No matter how you look at it, a day to celebrate romantic love, named for an obscure Christian martyr, is a decidedly odd thing. And I say this as a confirmed, against-my-better-judgment romantic.
I can’t help but think that, unlike most silly things in the world, whoever thought up Valentine’s Day must have been a girl. Do any men actually like Valentine’s Day? Or, like flowered bed linens, kittens and love songs, do they tolerate it because they know they must?
Women and girls – many of us – love Valentine’s. The idea of it anyway. We’re suckers for courtly love, despite knowing well all the real-life complexities behind the fairytales. Despite being the targets for trigger-happy athletes, despite being beaten to death on buses, raped on college campuses, bullied and threatened and abused physically, emotionally, socially in our own homes. Despite economic and legal oppression.
Why don’t we shake off our romantic dreams? Our hopes? What is it embedded in days like this we can’t, or don’t want, to live without?
What Valentine’s Day makes me think of is my father bringing home a big heart-shaped box of chocolates for my mother, and a small heart-shaped box of chocolates for me, every year when I was a little girl. I have few happy childhood memories, even fewer involving my father. Few positive images of my parents’ marriage. This one I never shake. Never even try.
That’s it for now. I have to go – I’ll admit it – out to dinner with my sweetie. It’s Valentine’s Day, after all.