Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Proposed: "Friendship Day"

Yeah, it's Valentine's Day.

I've said before how this was a more fun holiday when I was a kid: I went to schools where (mostly) the attitude was "If you're gonna give valentines at the class party, give them to everything" and also the valentines (the cheap little paper ones we bought) came in boxes with pretty much as many valentines as there were people in the class.

And you got to decorate a shoe box as a "mailbox." Some years there was a contest for the best one (I never won; we never seemed to have proper shoeboxes lying around, and also, never had as glitzy art supplies as some of the wealthier kids).

Recently I saw at the wal-mart "kits" for the valentine's mailboxes so I guess they are still a thing (and somehow, selling them as kits seems to go against the spirit of the thing).

And we'd get the afternoon off from classes; usually the teacher would drag out the record player and put some kind of music on. And we'd have cupcakes or cookies and a cup of red Hi-C. (This was also before people were as aware of allergies or as concerned about special diets. I knew a few kids who were allergic to chocolate, but there were always vanilla cupcakes in the batch, or plain sugar cookies. I didn't know any diabetic kids though I am sure there were some in my school; "juvenile diabetes" is not that uncommon. I only knew one person with celiac disease when I was growing up but she was an adult and took responsibility for her own diet. I also don't remember any parents complaining "the sugar will make them hyperactive" or "I don't allow my child to consume artificial coloring" though maybe there were a few kids who either quietly avoided the treats, or, perhaps, openly ate them in defiance of parental dictum)

Part of the fun was that it was something different, on a day that was usually cold and gloomy in northeastern Ohio. Part of it was getting an afternoon off classes - even for a kid like me who actually enjoyed learning, it was still fun.

I do think we need holidays. We need to stop and celebrate things, and yes, I think we do occasionally need to have some kind of food that is merely enjoyable rather than designed-to-be-healthful. We need to do things that are not-working at times, even during normal work-times.

I think there's actually a spiritual value to this: it's kind of similar to what I see as a justification for taking a Sabbath - to remind yourself that making money (or advancement, or wielding power, whatever is most important about your career) is not the ONLY thing and it is not really the thing that defines you. (And for the worker-bee types, rather than the boss-types: it's a way to avoid being worked to death. Sabbath rules/laws used to be stricter, where laborers had to be given time off. I think that has changed....)

But of course, once you get older, and things change, you realize that Valentine's Day isn't really intended (at least in our culture) to be about sending a card with Daffy Duck and a silly pun on it to your best friend or about eating cupcakes; it's about pairing up, showing off that you're paired up, and the pressure to find just the right gift to the person you're paired up to.

(I once opined that V-day was easier for long-term loving couples, because there's less pressure: you don't worry that the person you've been married to for 30 years will break up with you if you buy the "wrong" brand of chocolates)

And for single people, it's at best a mixed day. For some (and I was in this boat once) it's an aching reminder that (a) some people have what you don't have and do want and (b) that you're a creep and a weirdo because you're alone. (And honestly? When I was younger the "societal approval" angle was a big part of why I wanted to be part of a couple. Which is probably partly why I never succeeded at it)

The most recent issue of Mary Jane's Farm had a story (which, like everything in there, I take with a little grain of artisanally-produced, all-natural sea salt, because they tend a bit on the "woo" side f the spectrum) about how in Europe, Valentine's Day is more a day about friendship than about romance.

And the truth is: even if that's not correct, that's a better way to do it. Pretty much everyone has SOMEONE they (at least marginally) consider a friend, and there are whole swathes of the population who don't have a lover, either because they're widowed, divorced, single-who-has-given-up-on-dating, or whatever.

I didn't send out any valentine's this year (other than a couple of virtual ones done on Ravelry). I feel a little bad about that but crikey, it's been non stop stuff this semester so far, between weekend things and the extra labor of the Sci Oly and dealing with managing the emotions/expectations of people who think I should do their emotional labor for them....and I don't know.

And yes, there IS still part of me deep down who is that young teenager who secretly hoped for a "from a secret admirer" card or a carnation when my high school did a carnation sale or all of that....and of course never got one, because secret admirers in the real world don't work the way they do in books.

(And now, I wonder, in our new reality, would a 'secret admirer' thing be seen as creepy and stalkerish and therefore the sort of chap I might WANT as a secret admirer would not do it, and might just kind of keep his mouth shut....I have learned a few times in my adult live that so-and-so "fancied" me, but he was either intimidated by me (so his friends claimed) or else didn't know how to approach me, and so he didn't....and in at least one time, I wailed to the friend (this was after the guy in question had graduated and gone off to a job) BUT WHY DIDN'T HE ASK ME OUT I WOULD HAVE GONE ON AT LEAST ONE DATE FOR COFFEE OR A MOVIE.

But yeah. I suspect that we're becoming more and more like many of the lower mammals, like raccoons, where we come together to mate, and that's about it, and forging anything like an actual supportive's like a lot of people have forgotten how, or the old rules got thrown out and there are no new ones, and I don't know.)

But yeah. I have resigned myself to a valentine-less life, and am striving to be okay with that, though I admit that being able to take the afternoon off and eat a cupcake and talk with friends would be a good thing.

No comments: