Disclaimer: If you want a Valentine’s Day as filled with sweetness as a marshmallow heart, then this post is not for you. This Valentine is more of a dark chocolate pecan cluster: chewy, nutty, bittersweet. May stick in your teeth.
It is no secret that I prefer depictions of love that are messy and imperfect. There is so much about Valentine’s Day that smacks of enforced declarations, duty buying, expectations that are artificially inflated, and the corresponding heart bruises when those expectations are not fulfilled. This is not restricted to adults: children are increasingly targeted. Cards, candy, clothing, merchandise of every kind are all aimed like a quiver-full of Cupid arrows at families so they will be enticed to spend on stuff they otherwise don’t need just to fulfill the expectations of this saccharine day.
Here are a few good reasons to take a stand against the Valentine frenzy.
Let’s begin with that traditional bouquet of roses. The flower industry, unlike the food industry, is not tightly regulated in regard to use of chemicals on the flowers while they are grown or when they are prepared for market. Workers and ground water alike suffer egregiously. The flowers are then flown or trucked from afar which greatly increases their environmental footprint. Instead of that costly bouquet, look for flowers marked Fair Trade or better yet, ask for locally grown plants—something you can grow in your garden come spring surely says “enduring love” better than an ethically dubious bouquet which will end up in the garbage next week.
Chocolate. I love chocolate, I do. But I know that much of the chocolate we so avidly consume comes with a terrible hidden price tag, particularly for the children who are often trafficked and/or enslaved to produce the cocoa that serves the chocolate industry. Best to look for Fair Trade chocolate. Or locally made Valentine confections. Another option is Fair Trade coca, which is increasingly easy to find. You can make your kids mugs of frothy Valentine hot chocolate with heart-shaped marshmallows. Call it a Cup of Love and enjoy it with a clear conscience. Come evening when all the restaurants are full, put a shot of something decadent in it for your spouse and stay home.
If you must go through the classroom protocol of a Valentine for every child, try making cards at home. It is easy to find craft ideas online, or simply spend an afternoon baking heart shaped cookies. Store-bought Valentine cards for kids are no longer sweet flimsy little cards depicting puppies, they are usually a glossy “branded” package deal, the merchandising arm for a movie or TV franchise. This makes me feel resentful and uppity. I’d rather use a bunch of recycled paper we already have in the craft drawer and make home-made cards even if I still find glue in the rug three months later.
If, like me, the whole day just makes you kind of cranky, do something good. Give blood on Valentine’s Day. For the extreme anti-Valentine Valentine, ask your spouse for an afternoon off to take care of that pap smear/blood test/breast exam you have been avoiding. Or send your Valentine guy this post at Dadcentric by TwoBusy, who quite correctly pointed out “Nothing says romance like a robust GI procedure.”
Or a healthy set of boobs and a clear conscience.
Happy Valentine’s Day sweethearts.