21 February 2010


So last week was the lovely holiday we all love to love, Valentine's Day. A little history on the event, it's actually a Catholic holiday (The Feast of St. Valentine). Valentine was a Martyr for the Christian faith, and in the Catholic tradition, vestments are red, indicating blood and passion, for all services on the feast of a Martyr. So that is likely where the red/pink obsession of February 14th comes from. The rest in really up to legend, popular Catholic legend says that Valentine wrote letters to imprisoned Catholics expressing his love (platonic) as well as God's love for them, and encouraging them to keep the faith. Really, he was not so dissimilar to modern foundations that send calling cards and toothbrushes to soldiers overseas, just little reminders that they still matter to us.

Anyway, there's a brief run down of the insanity now for the most tickle-me-pink irony of that lovey dovey dayvey...er day.

It's the Holiday of Love right? The day where couples either get their start or really show each other that they care right? Sure, I suppose that's what it is, or could/should be. And hey, nothing says "You're special to me" like giving her the exact same number and arrangement of roses that 75% of all other committed men are giving their sweeties right?

That's what really go to me. I spent last week end in New York City (visiting my sweetie, yes I'm just as sappy as the rest of you) and it just struck me about how foolish this Holiday has gotten. This is more commercial than Christmas. At least Christmas has all those insane people who won't let you forget that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Through the streets of Midtown Manhattan in the days before the big Two - One - Four -Twenty-Ten, I must have seen five men per block with a dozen roses. Is the irony of that lost on everyone? Do you guys really believe you're giving her anything special by buying her exactly what the commercials told you to? Girls, do you really feel special when you get the same roses your best friend, mother, aunt, niece, and sister got? Do we pretend we're original when we do this crap? It's so silly, but maybe I'm just bitter.

But I'm probably not. There was a commercial on the Rock station where I live right before Valentines day. I don't remember the details, and I don't remember that phone number that they always repeat three times in that hypnotic voice (nice try guys) but I do remember the tagline "Roses, give some, get some." Yeah... I think all upright committed men and women have a call to stand up against that. Seriously? Is that what it is? Valentine's Day is now a day of exchanging physical goods for sex? There's a word for that...it starts with a P, I think...maybe it will come to me later....

I also liked the diamond store that was advertising that you can get her both chocolate AND diamonds. For every thousand dollar string of shiny rocks you buy her you get some candy too! Sweet!

Seriously people? Can we really say this Holiday means half as much as we would like to believe it does when all we do is buy the exact same crap because a few violin-laced commercials told us to? I know it's too late for this year, but next year let's all try to be a little more thoughtful than roses, diamonds, chocolate and sex. While all these things are great, I really hope there is more to a relationship than that.

Now for something completely different.

I just wanted to make a brief comment on a very very good book I read recently (and we could even say it fits with the theme of love) called The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. I try to use this blog to comment on both social phenomena as well as the finer aspects of culture, but I must admit the latter has been lacking so this is my chance to right that wrong.

Anyway, The Alchemist is a book about a boy (age is approximately twenty) who leaves home and sets out to find his Personal Legend and experiences the world and some very interesting people. From helpful to hurtful, kind to cruel, he meets them all and manages to make meaning of each person he runs into for his own personal story. It's a book about, literally, chasing dreams, and I think if you've ever wanted to do something, anything, with a passion this is a great book. It's an easy read. I knocked it out in two days, but I bet I could have downed it in one if it were the weekend. I would say kids as young as fifth grade would be able to handle the words, but I don't think you'll really start to appreciate the story until college age. That seems a bit like a double standard I'm sure, there really is just something to this book that comes from the shared experience of being out on your own, and while one can imagine that from a young age, we really don't start to live it until college.

So check out The Alchemist good book for yourself or your kids. I really think it would make a great bed time story read over a few nights for very young children, but it also really deeply spoke to me as a worldly college student. A truly great novel, do not pass it by. And for the record, the intro to this book is worth reading, but save it for after.

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