Love is all you need

FI-EditorialTo anyone reading this right now and feeling that sinking feeling in their stomach when they realize that they forgot all about Valentine’s Day, our deepest sympathies in this time of terror.

But for those that did not forget or have the ability to sit this holiday out, have yourselves either a very Happy Valentine’s Day or a very pleasant regular Thursday. Even as that happens, one has to wonder, what is Valentine’s Day all about? Is it truly a celebration of an early Christian saint who allegedly performed unauthorized weddings and was executed for it? Is that what created the sense that on Valentine’s Day one must be extra romantic or die trying? Or is this holiday simply a response to cynical and relentless marketing from those forces that demand we consume all the trappings of romance on Feb. 14?

The truth is that it’s mostly the latter. Any real celebration of the alleged story of St. Valentinus (and there’s not even clarity on what his story really was) faded away a long time ago replaced by heart shaped boxes of chocolate and little floating Cupids and, of course, diamonds…lots and lots of diamonds. Because you can’t show someone you love them without jewelry and that’s a fact…according to the diamond companies that pollute the airwaves with such endless manipulative pap that you beg for something, anything to replace it. Even Linda McMahon for Senate commercials would be preferable to hearing from Kay Jewelers again.

So what are people to do when the message being put forth to the masses for Valentine’s Day is spend, spend, spend? Everyone just went through this for Christmas and now Valentine’s Day? The cynical response to this holiday is to brush it off as a fictional creation of the greeting card companies and the jewelers and everyone involved in the business of romance.

But any chance to escape cynicism is a welcome respite so why not try and do it for Valentine’s Day too? For as much as this holiday has become a celebration of marketing and consumerism, why not bring it back to the idea that served to inspire it in the first place? Make this day really a celebration of love. Give gifts that are really from the heart that show how well you know the important people in your life instead of how much you’re willing to spend on them.

Because there are great stories out there…true love stories of your friends and neighbors and your family members. These are stories of people who have stayed together through ups and downs not out of New England stubbornness or Fairfield County dysfunction but because of the kind of honest connections that truly bind people together. There are people who have lived truly remarkable lives full of love. Let them all serve to inspire us. Let’s celebrate those that work together and share their lives and their love.

It’s no news flash to say that there’s a lot of lying and deception out there when it comes to “romance.” But that’s not how it has to be. Maybe it’s a little naive to say “Show the people you love every day what they mean to you” but that doesn’t make it less true. Loving doesn’t have to stop when the calendar turns to Feb. 15. Never be shy about showing the people in your life that are important to you just how much you care.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be the mass marketed version that is in everyone’s face. It can be about the celebration of individual love stories, each of which is different from the next. What does this holiday mean? It can mean whatever you want it to mean because love all means something different to each individual.

Let’s make Valentine’s Day a celebration of what is best about all of us, both inside ourselves and in the people we share our lives with. Celebrate what brings us together and not how sparkly those diamonds are or how big a box of chocolates you can get. Mass marketed romance can bring out the worst in people, but love can bring out the best.

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