According to Money magazine, Americans spend $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day. Most of that is spent on humans, but some animal lovers spend $700 million on their pets on February 14.
WHAT. THE. HECK?
When you look at that total and realize what good that money could do to help others, I just shake my head.
I've never been a big Valentine's Day person. When I was in elementary school, the day was fun because we all traded the cards we made in class. They were made with construction paper, rubber-cement glue, crayons and paper doilies. The teacher made sure that every kid got a card so that no one was left out. We all felt the love.
Teenage years weren't so much fun on Feb. 14. I didn't have a boyfriend, so I didn't get flowers or candy or cards. Class time wasn’t wasted on crafts. Maybe that’s when my cynicism of this “day of love” began.
When I got married, my then-husband didn't do much for Valentine's Day. He just wasn't the type to show affection through flowers. At least that's what I thought. Then, on Valentine’s Day toward the end of the marriage, he had the florist deliver artificial flowers in a Mickey Mouse vase to me at work. Just one reason he's not around anymore.
My present husband is totally a Valentine's Day guy. He always puts a great amount of thought into the day. The first year we dated, he sent me a dozen beautiful roses, a box of candy and a stuffed animal. I've gotten flowers every year since then. Just one more reason he's still around.
I love getting real flowers, but I remember what it was like to be the one not getting anything. I was one of the excluded people, and I know how deflating it feels. My heart goes out to those people, especially teenagers and young adults, who feel like they are not beautiful, popular or nice enough to be loved by someone.
I taught at one school that was the worst when it came to Valentine's Day because the administration allowed floral deliveries. The local florists made a killing on that day. The office staff would spend the last ten minutes of each class period calling names of girls to come to the office to get their flowers. Not much education happened on Valentine’s Day at that school. Girls sat waiting all day for their names to be called to come collect their token of love. Sadly, many girls had no special gift to carry home at the end of school.
This week, a suggested blog topic was “To whom would you send a virtual Valentine’s Day card?” A virtual card, although somewhat cold and impersonal, is an inexpensive way to share the love. As we get more and more sucked into that virtual realm, I visualize having a file on your desktop for saving such items just like you would save the tangible card in your underwear drawer (drawers’ drawer).
Some of the people I think need a Valentine’s Day card are
1. Brian Williams – I miss Brian on NBC Nightly News; however, I’m sure I don’t miss him as much as the person who watched him every night to chart the color/pattern of the tie he wore. I’m sending a card to both.
2. Valimir Putin – This Russian leader just seems like he needs some hugs. He even looks mean in his pictures, so maybe a virtual card will melt his cold heart a little, and he will leave Ukraine alone.
4. All the teenage girls and boys who feel like they don’t matter because they don't get a real card or flower. Your time is coming, and until then, love yourself. Wait until Feb. 15 and buy yourself lots of candy!
I could think of many more to whom I’d send these free cards, but I can save time and put it as my status on Facebook or use fewer than 140 characters to tweet it. So on this extremely commercial holiday from the old, cynical me -- Happy Valentine’s Day.