It is the only holiday dedicated to an emotion. While other days of celebration honor the lives of great men, events and prophets, even a rodent (groundhog) Saint Valentine's Day commemorates an emotion - love. And, if that is not enough to set it apart, it is the only holiday that, for its symbol, has an internal organ - the heart.
Where appropriate, I believe other holidays should follow suit and also recognize the organ involved.
Just as the heart is the symbol of Valentine's Day on cards and calendars, shouldn't Saint Patrick's Day honor the bladder, and Mother's Day the womb? Or might that be Labor Day? And Father's Day? Let's not go there.
If any given celebration was going to be based purely on an emotion, what better emotion than love? Is there anything more appropriate to revel, more satisfying to observe and experience, and more healing and corrective than love? It soothes the wretched, heals the hurt and is great fun when you dress up like a stern teacher and a naughty student (or so I've been told).
One day a year to honor love is not near enough. It is ridiculous that Columbus Day is part of a three-day weekend and we confine a day of love to 24 hours. It should be a weeklong festival. Granted, celebrating Columbus is less tiring than love and requires no shower, but who remembers their first Columbus Day?
Unfortunately, Saint Valentine's Day is thought of as merely a celebration of romantic fondness. This leaves out some of the sweetest and most pure examples of devotion: a parent's love of a child, a child's love of a parent, a human's love of a pet (platonically).
I was not always a fan of the holiday. My earliest (grammar school) Valentine's Day experiences were not altogether pleasant. My mother would have purchased a package of cards for me to fill out and deliver to my classmates. During the week before, in preparation, our class would create little mailboxes attached to our desks in anticipation of the influx of postal delivery.
With a limited amount of cards provided, I remember anguishing over to whom I would give one. The kiss of death would be giving a card to someone who did not give one back. This was not only a waste of a Valentine, but a personal affront and humiliation.
Those primordial Valentine's Days were a precursor of life's realities. The pretty, popular kids would have mailboxes full of missives, while some others were nearly empty. Always the paranoid neurotic, I would waste valuable cards by sending them to myself so my box would abound with self-directed love - which in my teens, I was told by a nun, could make you go blind.
Thankfully, those days are long over. I no longer need to worry if my love gestures will be reciprocated. My current Valentine/bride will certainly be my last. For over 20 years, we've been in 'love.'
Even now when I consider that word, love, I still don't have a definitive definition. Webster calls it "a warm personal attraction to another person."
I believe the meaning of love is as broad as those who experience it. One meaning I came up with is that, whether for a moment or a lifetime, love is when you care more for another's happiness than your own.
Love can also be a very satisfying spectator sport. No other emotion can vicariously be felt so easily. Whether it is tentative teens holding hands, the comfort and companionship of an aged couple or a dog lover cuddling her poodle, love is fun to watch.
I'm told that Valentine's Day was the brainchild of the confection industry as a means to sell their products. If that was the case, it was a self-serving motivation that produced a positive result. But whatever the original motivation, most of us feel that a gift is in order. The traditional gifts for woman are jewelry, flowers or underwear. Unfortunately, my bride shuns all three, so I must be creative.
Anything practical or utilitarian is out. Gifts of that nature are reserved for Christmas and birthdays. I'd like to give her something that could take her to new heights of bliss and pleasure, something she can enjoy whether I'm with her or not; maybe a new pair of skis. But I haven't ruled out the stern teacher outfit ...
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.