Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day: The Archives

This day had been fast approaching for weeks now. On Superbowl Sunday our Bible Study Group decided that the holiday was too important and our normal Tuesday gathering should be a moved to a different day so those couples could celebrate. All I could think was Really?!

I don't know why (or when) I have become this sort-of holiday grump. Having similar feelings this past Christmas, I guess I am just "over" holidays right now. Lately I have become more aware of what values I have placed on worldly things and how that stuff doesn't really matter and what matters is love and relationships and how I decide to honor a God that saves me every day of my life.

Not to say the feeling behind holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day aren't important, because they are. I just all of a sudden get kind of sick to my stomach thinking about the money people spend on such events and then the vain need to tell everyone (on Facebook) what their loved one did for them this year.

This year we had plans of maybe using a Groupon that we purchased a while ago for a local restaurant (which is where we actually spent V-Day at last year). As it turned out, my patients were to be my Valentine for a short four hour work day, so we nixed the idea of dinner (maybe next week instead?) and invited friends over for a game night. Is it strange that we are comfortable spending a "Lover's Holiday" with people other than just one another? I don't think so. I think it's the best way to spend the day! So, tonight we played a game of dominoes, snacked on grapes and peanut-buttery chocolatey cookies, and laughed until our heads fell off (Radiohead reference; yes, honey, that is my V-Day gift to you).

After everyone left, we were lounging in the living room when I looked up at our fireplace mantle and saw a book between the candle and the clock. All of a sudden I remembered: I used to care about this holiday very much.

Years ago I spent hours upon hours writing (what my friends would later call it) "cryptic" notes on a typewriter to be sent in the mail from an "Anonymous" person. The year before I think I cut out small paper hearts and wrote nice things and mailed them along in hopes that my friends would know how much I care for them. And while I was living in Tampa, I woke up one morning to make a special breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, strawberries, and OJ (all of this accomplished while I was still in my hippie phase, long before my current domesticity phase) along with hand-written cards and long stem roses for my favorite boys. In essence, a lot of time was spent on a holiday that I now swear up and down I don't care for.

The book on the mantle? Something I created for J., my then best friend. That year after I made the book, I took photographs of it and sent an e-mail to my closest friends (the USF duo and A., K. & M.) for opinions. Tonight we leafed through the book together, and well, it was sort-of fun! February 2008 marked the beginning of my new cleansed self -- it was the year that I asked Christ to be my Savior. I have never looked back, but it is interesting to take a look back. (:

A lot of the writings in this book I made for J. are Tagore poems (read him if you haven't!), scripture, personal anecdotes, poems and snippets of short stories that I loved. I had mailed J. a copy of Fahrenheit 451 (another favorite writer of mine) with a small key stuck inside it weeks before Valentine's Day. It was, of course, the key to my heart, ahhhh-dun-dun. Other than writings, there are earlier sketches my be, Polaroids, and photograph collages. I also left clues throughout the book for a special gift for J. to find, kind of like a scavenger hunt. (It was a bonsai tree that is now dead, which shouldn't be any reflection of our relationship but maybe a foreshadowing of my feelings toward this day? Ha.) (Is it any more obvious how completely in love I was with him already? Jeez.)

It took me a while to find the photos of said book, but I thought it would be fun to upload and share with you all, as a tribute to my former self -- and maybe to rekindle some of that extra joy I had in this holiday.

And just for good measure, my old roommate and good friend, M., on Valentine's Day in 2006:

See the stack of pancakes behind him? (:

How do you feel about this holiday? Did you celebrate?


Lauren Robinson said...

love the book- so creative!

Andrew and Elizabeth said...

You can look at my blog archive for last valentine's day to see that my opinion has been very similar in the past. When I was frustrated about this day and how "commercialized" it was, I talked to my mom. I was saying things like we should love each other every day and it's not even a unique day to us it's generic! In her goldy bestowed wisdom she said to me, "Elizabeth, we don't love each other every day as we ought, that is why this holiday is good, because it reminds us we should". You see, I have and am realizing how forgetful and sinful I am. I need these calendar holiday to remind me to do what I ought. Mark Driscol has an excellent article on Santa Claus that I think relates, but you can decide. Basically as believers we have the options to 1)reject 2)receive or 3)redeem. Please read this article

ambuhhh said...

Elizabeth, I appreciate such a thoughtful response to something I have been struggling with.

On Valentine's Day, it is still difficult for me to reconcile my Christian thoughts with worldly holiday ones. I see your mom's point, and I agree with it to an extent. Maybe it's the way that people choose to "show their love" that bothers me. (Of course I am a proponent of the Love Languages so I probably shouldn't bad mouth what I am about to say here...) It is difficult for me to say it's okay to spend hundreds of dollars on a loved one when there are people in the world dying from starvation or unsure where there next meal might come from. I guess I think to myself, "Would Jesus be buying me a $200 piece of jewelry or would he show me love in a different way?" As Christians and sinners we know how easy it is to get wrapped up in worldly things and sometimes it is hard for me to figure out where to draw the line. Even the things I think I "need" probably aren't real necessities; how does my heart cope with that knowing people outside of my small little world have real needs? So here is the struggle.

Another problem I have with the commercialized Valentine's Day is how it plays into romantic relationships. Those that aren't in them are reminded on this day and sometimes feel distraught. (One reason it was important for me to spend the holiday this year with both committed and single friends.) Like, love shouldn't feel bad, but when you are single on this holiday, you might feel that way. Jesus loves us all, regardless of relationship status, so I feel like a holiday that tries to make money off of those that are exclusively dating goes against what He teaches (in a broad sense). Sigh.

On the flip side, the gestures I discussed in the original post didn't feel like I was being capitalized on by Hallmark. I sincerely wanted to do special things for my friends and took advantage of the holiday to do so. (And, this was even before I was a Christian!) So maybe what bothers me isn't how I have celebrated the day, but how others seem to celebrate it (which of course is very judgmental). It just irks me when I sign onto Facebook and I see floods of pictures and status updates that say why their Valentine is the best because of this gift. I guess we all want to feel like we have the best catch, but really Christ wants us to love everyone. You mentioned that something you are currently realizing how "forgetful and sinful" you are; lately for me it has been realizing that I do not always see people as Christ sees them, so I am making a strong effort to do so (and my judgments on Valentine's Day probably goes against this). I am still obviously very stuck between a rock and a hard place. It helps when I hear other perspectives, especially from Christian brothers and sisters.

I really enjoyed that article you linked to. As you might imagine, for the past few years I have been trying to figure out how I would want to raise any future children and how to prepare them for the world. Santa Claus has been a huge obstacle, but I love Driscol's opinion of redeeming him. There was so much I did not know about the real person and it would be great to share that with future generations. (I still don't know how I feel about Halloween, though.)

Thank you again for your thoughtful response!

Andrew and Elizabeth said...


I think that your wrestle with this is evidence of God's work in your life. I agree that how people spend tons of money on gifts is nauseating (even though Andrew and I do endulge to some extent with gifts for each other and family). For me Christmas is a huge issue, since Jesus is the GIFT. Their are people near and far with huge needs; however, we will show people by extravagant love, not judgement, how to love each other better. We live in a sinful world and our souls should cry out against the wrong doings of our culture and world. It's just I'm not sure I can "not sin in my anger" the way Jesus did when he knocked the tables over in the tabernacle. 1 Corinthians says we should not delight with evil but rejoice with the truth. I'm not saying be ok with the evil in the world, but pray for needs to be met and remember that Christ is in control.

P.S. I hated Santa Claus. I absolutely wanted to do away with any mythical santa until I read that article. I grew up in a home where my mom taught me who Saint Nicholas was for real (and up until about 5 years old we did go out on Christmas Eve and look for rudolph)She also taught me all the symbols of Christmas like why candy canes (white and red symbolizes Jesus' blood and our purity b/c of it) and Christmas trees (evergreens symbolize the eternal life we now have). My Christmas' were so rich in history and meaning b/c of those true stories of Christmas. I think my mom did a great job Redeeming Christmas. I hope to continue that tradition in our family. You will find what works for your family too.

Also I'll do some research on the real Valentine's Day and post what I find! Great points.

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