Far be it from me to disrespect an entrepreneurial sister, but, curse you Miss Esther Howland.
Had you not twigged that your frilly-lace gift cards with romantic sentiments could be mass-produced for profit, billions of innocent folk would be spared the ignominy of the unloved on February 14.
Sure, you were the etsy-maker-queen of the mid 19th century and becoming financially independent in a world where women had only just been afforded the right to own property (if not the right to vote) was an exceptionally savvy move, but … did you really think it through?
You were an educated woman, Miss Esther? Could you not see that your pioneering pimping of love was going to keep women in romantic bondage for centuries to come?
Oh, hold on, you never married.
Did you think that flooding the continent with florid greeting cards would increase the likelihood that one of your apparent many suitors would finally come to his senses and whisk you away from the confines of your father’s book and stationery empire in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts?
Or was your bustle into business to catch the attention of another? Perhaps a suffragette sister? Or one of the ladies on your revolutionary, all-women production line?
Or did you actually foresee that, thanks to your efforts, 150 years later over 150 million valentine’s cards would be sent on February 14th and your fledgling enterprise a $17 billion industry?
Oh, Miss Esther, what have you done?
It’s February 11th and for the past 24 hours I’ve been trying to organise something (anything!) to distract me on Saturday night.
Saturday the 14th.
Ever since I was a child, and wondered why I never received any I Choo-Choo-Choose You cards, I’ve developed a growing wariness of the day.
Despite Valentine Day’s garish association with the heart and love, I find it has little to do with either. Commercialisation has created a day designed for the popular and the desired – and yet it probably has the most impact on those who are neither.
For those who are single, it’s a finger-pointing shame-fest of your inadequacies in getting and keeping partners.
For those who are in a relationship, it’s a high-cost and high-expectations game of the demonstration of your love.
I have no issue with love. (We disagree often but it’s not conditional.)
What I do have issue with is there being a “right way” to express love and the assumption that love can only manifest romantically with a significant other.
For me, a box of chocolates, a dozen red roses and a card on one day of the year does not say I Love You.
It says, I’m a Lazy Conventional Fuck.
Love is more than that. Love is 365 days a year. And showing love does not cost money.
You see, in trying to understand this Valentine’s Day thing a little better, I’ve been doing a bit of scratching around on the identity of the martyr who lends his name to the day-of-love. All I’ve found is myth and inconsistency. While there have been a number of chaps named Valentine who have been canonised as saints, there’s little known about any of them and nothing to link them with romantic love …
I’ve discovered that, thanks to the Catholic Church, some chancy Chaucer, Esther Howland and capitalism, Valentine’s Day is a sham.
So, I’ve decided to cancel Valentine’s Day this year.
There will be no going out to the local lesbian bar’s speed dating event for me. Nope.
There will be no getting together with other single people and drowning our single-town sorrows with too much Savvy Blanc. No.
There will not even be a stockpiling of chocolate, watching re-runs of Grand Designs and wallowing in the filthy thought that no-one loves me – while simultaneously wondering if Kevin McCloud has a sister, and if she’s single…
No. Nope. Not doing any of that.
I’m not sure what I will do on Saturday but my intention is for it to be like any other day of the year.
Rather than participating in the popular Valentine’s Day pastime of waiting for love to find me, I will be sharing the love. I’ll be checking in with friends, ringing my mother, and telling those close to me that my world is brighter when they pass through.
So this Saturday, let’s ditch Valentine’s Day and re-imagine our own Valentine’s story.
It’s time to be our own Valens – own our worth, strength and power – and reclaim everyday for love.
I hereby declare:
Valentine’s Day has been cancelled.