...or not, as the case may be....
Back at the time of the Chinese New Year, i posted of my enthusiasm for celebrating all sorts of holidays. This one, on the other hand, is one which i rather wish could evaporate into the aether.
It's a "loaded" day, and i strongly suspect that very few really enjoy it. For a lot of people it's bound to be "Christmas revisited" -- WHAT to get one's best-loved-one that will be appreciated and not break the bank (the winter holiday bills not forgotten, and tax-time just around the corner...). For the single, it's got to be even harder: choosing a gift which is not indicative of too much affection, nor too little. My sympathies are most strong for children at those appalling school parties -- if you're not among the popular crowd, you HATE reminders of how little you're regarded by your contemporaries!
It's tempting to point the finger at modern entertainment media, for deleterious and unrealistic visions and expectations. One of my most-despised films is "The Truth About Cats and Dogs." It's got an amusing variation of the Cyrano story going on (anytime you add animals, you add charm), but the message of the movie itself is highly disturbing: if Janeane Garofalo is too "ugly" to be a possible recipient of affection, how must REALLY homely girls feel while watching this movie???!! My husband, in fact, finds her MUCH more attractive than Uma Thurman....
Unfortunately, classic literature is full of "bad" love stories, too. One of my favorite "discouraging" books is Charlotte Bronte's "Shirley": published in 1849 (and written during the time her siblings were dying right and left), it was set during one of the worst economic times in recent British history, 1810-11. Both of the heroines are having romantic troubles; one, who is beautiful and sweet and "perfect" cannot get together with the man she loves (and who apparently loves her too) because she has no fortune and he desperately needs money for noble purposes; the other, also very attractive but charmingly-flawed and rich, cannot get her man because he's poor, humble and proud, though totally crazy about her. Bronte writes movingly about women's positions in such times and situations -- "Shirley" isn't her best book, but i recommend it wholeheartedly.
Then there are the poisonous stories that so many find romantic, like "Wuthering Heights".... Heathcliff and Cathy were a pair of unevolved, selfish asshats who SHOULD have ended up with one another -- so as not to ruin anyone else's lives! "Gone With the Wind" is not much better. I (and some other friends -- hello, Jules!) absolutely DEPLORE whoever first wrote about the glorification of the "bad boy" and all the STUPID women who want to "fix" them. This moronic trend got a new lease on its bad life in 1950s films.
Even in comedy.... We just re-watched "Shrek" the other night -- entertaining fantasy for adults as well as children! -- but it wasn't the movie itself that i'm referring to. Oh, NO, it's a cartoon, for heaven's sake -- one isn't supposed to find it a rational guide to life. It's that brain-dead song, "I Need a Hero." :-P THINK ABOUT IT! In modern society, the qualities which make a great classic HERO (warrior) are not going to result in anything but trouble. "Heroes" in this sense make appalling husbands and fathers. And yet, silly young girls still want their knight.... BAD CHOICE!!! Short of the zombie apocalypse, he'll be a millstone rather than a benefit -- and there IS no zombie apocalypse, kids -- that's FICTION!!!
Everyone wants love, but the kind that's promoted in this season is a phantom seducer. It's exciting in theory, but it has a bitter aftertaste and it can't last. The more people go hunting for it, the more it will elude them, because a truly desirable partner isn't needy in that fashion -- needy partners can be a nightmare! The best thing everyone can do is cultivate self-esteem and universal benevolence, love your TRUE FRIENDS, appreciate the ones who care for you, and practice tough-love on the ones who would take advantage of your good nature without reciprocating in kind.
Loving oneself is NOT selfish; looking out for oneself is a serious responsibility.
p.s. -- for the record, i have a husband who IS a friend and a blessing, affectionate, responsible and mostly considerate. ;-) he only drives me crazy some of the time.