Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the Name of Love

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the martyrdom of the notoriously romantic St. Valentine.  Right?  When Googling the history of Valentine’s Day I found some interesting information.  St. Valentine was a priest who fought against the Roman Emperor Claudius’ ridiculous declaration that single men make better soldiers and his outlaw of marriage by marrying young couples in secret.  When he was discovered he was put to death on February 14th.  Or perhaps St. Valentine was killed after it was discovered that he helped Christians escape being beaten and tortured in Roman prisons.  Another account claims that St. Valentine fell in love with the jailor’s daughter while he was imprisoned (perhaps for one of the previously mentioned reasons) and sent a letter signed “From Your Valentine,” thereby sending the first ever “valentine.”  Others say the holiday originated with the Pagan fertility festival, Lupercalis, which was celebrated on February 15th, but was renamed and dedicated to a saint by Christians in an attempt to make the transition from Paganism to Christianity a little easier. 
The history, I suppose, is mostly irrelevant these days.   Valentine’s Day has become a commercialized sensation.  According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion cards are sent each year in the name of love.  Some cynics of the holiday say that it is a joke.  Why should we spend our hard earned money on this day each year to tell the people we care about that we love them?  Because some ancient inmate named Valentine fell in love, or because some ancient Romans wanted to get knocked up?  No thank you. 
I tend to disagree.  Life is hectic.  There is always so much to do and so little time.  I think it’s safe to say that many of us are guilty of taking the people close to us for granted from time to time.  We assume that they know we love them, and they probably do.  But isn’t it nice to take a moment now and again to tell them?  And if billions of other people also decide to take a moment out of their busy lives to do something nice for their loved ones on the same day, is that really such a bad thing? 
I love all holidays.  Perhaps it is the compulsive shopper in me talking, but I find holidays to be exciting.  Growing up, my mom always used all major holidays as an excuse to buy my sister and I something.  Even if it was something small, we absolutely loved it.  I plan to do the same with Emmalee.  Maybe this is just another bullet to add to the list of ways that I am spoiling her, but maybe not.  According to Dictionary.com, to spoil means “to impair, damage, or harm the character of someone by … excessive indulgence.”  I don’t consider my character to have been impaired, damaged or harmed by the holiday indulgences.  I don’t think Emmalee will suffer either.  At least I hope not.
This past year has been especially exciting because each holiday that passes is Emmalee’s first.  Her first St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and now Valentine’s Day.  This Valentine’s Day was a little bittersweet for me as it marked the last first holiday Emmalee would experience, with the exception of her birthday (which is a holiday, right?).  Her first birthday is fast approaching and as excited as I am to celebrate I also can’t believe that a year has already just about passed.  I look at it as just another reminder of how quickly time passes by and I feel even more certain that we should take every excuse we are given to stop for a moment and rejoice with the ones we love most.
(I suppose this blog would have been more fun to read had it been posted on Valentine’s Day, but I’ve been sick.  So forgive me… in the name of St. Valentine/fertility/consumerism/love...  you pick the one that feels right.)

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