I'm not really much of a "Valentine's Day person." I'm not anti-Valentine's Day, per se, I'm more like a Valentines agnostic. Growing up, the biggest thrill about Valentine's Day was the potential to eat cinnamon hearts. I couldn't get enough of them and would literally burn holes in my mouth from sucking on their spicy citricy acid goodness. Is there any wonder why I was never put into the gifted program? (And not just for maiming myself so willingly, but for having constructed a sentence that has the word "citricy" in it?)
When I wasn't dating or married, I wasn't the type who ranted about it being a "Hallmark Holiday." I never organized empowering-but-actually-rather-pathetic drunk fests with my single friends, in large part because the idea of recreating the entire concept behind Sex and the City into an evening sounded like my version of hell. The holiday never bothered me, but never really interested me either. Basically, I didn't take its existence personally. Now as an old married lady with a husband I adore, it still doesn't occur to me to run out and get Patrick a gift, nor to expect one. We'll say "Happy Valentine's Day" to each other, of course, but that's about the extent of the celebration.
All that said, I wanted to share one of my magazines - it's the February 1943 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. This magazine came out right in the thick of World War II - and so the cover is of a young woman pining for her soldier. I'm also without my Valentine today, although it's because he's still at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. I know - it's a subtle difference - having one's husband fighting for his life at war vs. having one's husband flopped out by the pool drinking unlimited cervezas. But, please, your condolences and well-wishes are not necessary. We'll tough it out.
Anyway - I was looking in the magazine to see if there was any advice for women missing their sweethearts and was rather surprised to find none. I don't doubt for a second that real women of the time felt their heart strings especially pulled, but the contents of this magazine were strictly anti-pity party. But what struck me even more was how all-consuming the war effort was, in the context of this magazine. Within its 157 pages, I could only find 18 pages that had no mention or visual related to the war. Apparently, everything from nail polish to canned soup could help the effort abroad. Articles included Eleanor Roosevelt's trip to visit servicemen in England and her monthly advice / question column (which is amazing and I'll talk about it some other time!), how one family is making due on a much smaller wartime salary, women taking on more tasks and jobs to help the effort, advice on stretching budgets and food and clothing because of supply issues, and war bonds, war bonds, war bonds. Nearly every page is a guilt-fest to buy war bonds. I wish I could scan the whole thing so that you could get a sense of just how non-stop the talk of war is in this magazine. It's like a paper tidal wave of conflict and duty and sacrifice and unknowns.
So, when I see people on Facebook and Twitter and what-have-you moaning about how Valentine's Day is being shoved down their throats and how it's so unfair and obnoxious to have this cruel, manipulative holiday thrown in their single faces, I have to roll my eyes.
It could be worse. It has been worse. Buy yourself some chocolate and get a fucking grip.