I remember when I started to hate Valentine’s Day, it was when I first truly became aware of the holiday. I was 10 years old and I had just started attending my new elementary school in Birmingham, Alabama. In this particular Alabama elementary school, they ran a very successful fundraiser around Valentine’s Day called “CandyGrams”.
The way “CandyGrams” work is simple! Sometime around the beginning of February, during the school’s morning announcements, a mom who volunteered for the school, would alert all the children that Valentine’s Day was fast approaching. Then about 1 week before Valentine’s Day, your teacher would ask you if you wanted to buy “CandyGrams” for anyone. The teachers always specified buying one for someone you secretly admired.
First of all secret admirers, love and/or true love never, and I mean never, occur in grade school. Unless you are watching some super sappy love story that is totally based in the morbid fantasy of a mid 30’s L.A. screen writer, a grade school romance never happens. Why do adults feel the need to instill the idea of romance in children? They are children. They should be playing in the woods, playing pretend, not getting molested by priests and eating too much.
It is for the above stated reasons that I have ethical reasons to not endorse the principles behind the “CandyGrams”.
Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, girls mature faster than boys. I know some people are going to get their panties in a twist when they read this, so I am going to explain what I mean when I say “mature faster than boys”.
Girls from a very young age are taught to play with essentially fake babies as a way to train them for when they have actual babies. Meanwhile boys are playing “how many bugs can I fit in my mouth”. I am not disputing that there are the children that do not adhere to either of the groups just mentioned, I myself never played with dolls and very much enjoyed playing with bugs and such. However, I am not talking about the few and the odd, that I am proud to be a part of. I am talking about the standard or the rule.
Inevitably every year while the “CandyGrams” were being passed out, the same things always happened. A bunch of girls bought boys “CandyGrams” with cute little notes attached. The boys would awkwardly and insincerely thank the girls for the gifts, while the girls hoped that they would now be appreciated by the boy. The boy is just happy he got candy. The girl is heart broken.
Even worse are the girls who thought they were going to get one from some random boy. I was always one of those girls. I couldn’t sleep the night before “CandyGrams” were given out because I was so excited. I thought per what the adults, and media were telling me that perhaps this was going to be the year that some boy would put forth some romantic gesture.
I would wake up early on the morning of, and put on my nicest outfit. My mom or dad would drop me off at school and I would have that look in my eyes. A look that said “this is my day, this is the day someone sees me as something more than a bucktooth, skinny legged, nature nerd”. The bell would ring for class, I would run faster than even the most agile of gazelle. I would get into my seat being too afraid and full of excitement to talk or even look around. Then I would wait patiently for the morning announcements, knowing that in just a few minutes was my chance to receive a “CandyGram”. Announcements would end, and then the Moms who are always volunteering at the school, would go class to class with a beautiful basket full of “CandyGrams”. They would enter with their colorful basket full of treats and start announcing names. Every name seemed to come out slower. Time seemed to have almost been put on pause. Then, after all the names were called out, she would see the saddest face a child has ever displayed. She saw this expression on me. She wouldn’t acknowledge my disappointment, or anyone else’s disappointment for that matter. And then just like that, my chances were over, and the Mom who always volunteers, was now holding an empty basket. Every year this ritual/tradition happened and every year, it seemed to be worse for me.
Truly the only people who sent the glorified “SocialAcceptanceGrams” were girls who were either brave enough or stupid enough to send them to a boy, girls who sent them to their girlfriends, moms who sent them to their kids (this wasn’t supposed to happen but it always did), or the occasional boy would send a boy one. Luckily in Alabama, gay is so far from the radar of adults that even if a child were to write a letter insisting that he/she was, the parent would just block certain channels on the T.V..
The worst part about “CandyGrams” for me is that as a child I had few ways to get money to purchase a “CandyGrams”. My parents were not poor, and yet they were not rich. Regardless of their financial status, I never received money to buy anyone “CandyGrams”. They were only $1, but to be honest they were pretty crappy, you got a hershey kiss with a notecard attached. Of course the notecard was to be filled out by the purchaser of said “CandyGram”. I always hoped that I would receive a heart felt love letter on one of those notecards…. I also felt like, how can I ever expect to get a “CandyGram” if I don’t give a “CandyGram”. I was applying the financial principal, “you have to spend money to make money” to “CandyGrams”, I was 10 years old. What is wrong with me?
As I grew older “CandyGrams” took different forms.
In Junior High we had both “CandyGrams” and “FlowerGrams”. The cost was raised to $3.00. Once again few people got them. Once again I always hoped I would be one of the few. I suppose, I hoped, if just for a day, one stupid boy would recognize me for something other than my beaver teeth and my abnormally skinny legs. Needless to say every year in Junior High my anticipation was followed by progressively greater and greater disappointment.
In High School, we only had “FlowerGrams” to send for Valentines. The cost $5.00. However, in High School the rules changed. All of a sudden boys had noticed the girls, and girls were noticing the boys noticing them. However, no one noticed me. I kept dreaming, I kept hoping that I would get someone to notice how wonderful I was. However, despite the fact that I lost my beaver teeth, and my body became more curvy, I never received even a compliment from a boy while in High School. I can only assume this was due to my overwhelming amount of awesome intimidating all the boys away!
Soon, High School was over and off to college I went. The price to send your loved one a treat on this honored holiday once again went up, this time it was $8 – $15 or more, to send “FlowerGrams”, “CandyGrams” and/or “A Card”.
During College and even after College, I had boyfriends who did get me flowers…..every single time they totally freaking screwed up. So, for me, flowers are not the sign of romance as much as they are a sign that someone was being an asshole and is now sorry for being so. I know from my experience in real life, retail and so on, that I am not the only woman, man, person etc. to have experienced this phenomenon.
BACK ON TOPIC
Over the years celebrating Valentine’s had gone from $1.00 to $8.00 or more dollars. During the 10+ years of that holiday being celebrated, I had never received a Valentine’s gift. According to all the information from my teachers, parents and media, this was supposed to be the day that I was recognized by a member of the opposite sex as worthy of their attention and time. Every year, I thought there was something wrong with me….
There was something wrong with me, until college. It was during college that I realized that I no longer needed to acceptance of others, on this or any other of the stupid school, religious or socially mandated holidays.
For all those years, all the year long I was/am surrounded by people who love and appreciate me. I receive love and gifts of love and gifts from the people I love all the time. Why is it so important that I receive those gifts on a certain day? It isn’t/wasn’t. I had sad Valentine’s Days for years and it was my own fault for buying into the “CandyGram” idea.
College was/is over, and now I hear that the price for celebrating St. Valentine’s is even more expensive. Flowers go for about $10-$100 a dozen, then there is the card, and the chocolate, and in some cases the jewelry. So who knows how expensive this Halmark created holiday could run. And don’t get me wrong, I love being acknowledged for how wonderful I am, but I don’t need to be acknowledged on Valentine’s.
What’s Happenin‘ Now?
I am currently in a wonderfully romantic and loving relationship with a wonderful gentleman. As I stated earlier we do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead we celebrate each other, everyday, all year. He buys me chocolate and picks me flowers all the time, and he enjoys it more because it isn’t some horrible socially mandated ritual.
If there is one thing I have learned from the movie Office Space, it is that people don’t like being nagged, heckled and/or forced to do things. Romance, ladies and gentleman is no exception!
Valentine’s Day and “CandyGrams”, are kind of like working at Initech. No one want’s to be forced into doing something, whether that something is going to work at a place called “Initech” or celebrating a romantic holiday that was created to boost consumerism during tax season. If you make someone do something they don’t want to do, “that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired”. So don’t make people do things, let them!