Commercialism In Valentine’s Day

So a couple days ago, my beautiful wife, Andrea, posted a seemingly random thought on Facebook:

I know I am going to sound like a grumpy old lady…But I don’t actually like Valentine’s Day.  It’s so fabricated and commercial.  Too much pressure for me 😉

Thanks to direct access to this particular source, I was able to delve further.  She told me, “It’s hard to feel romantic when everyone is trying to do the same thing.  It feels forced.”  What makes it feel forced, she concluded, was the overly commercial aspect of it.

Speaking of commercials, did you happen to catch the Teleflora ad during the Super Bowl?  My reaction to supermodel Adriana Lima’s floral sales pitch was to awkwardly preoccupy myself with the chips and dip to hide the spontaneous nervous laughter that erupted at its conclusion, as Ms. Lima instructed my gender: “Guys, Valentine’s Day’s not that complicated.  Give, and you shall receive.”  Feeling the stares of all the women at a small Super Bowl gathering, I attempted to declare, foolishly, with as straight a face as humanly possible: “That commercial was…um…effective.”

The ladies present gave me grace and laughed at my helplessness, but I can’t but wonder whether the forced romanticism of which Andrea spoke wasn’t perfectly personified in Teleflora’s wanton objectification of women.  (For a discussion on the wanton objectification of MONEY itself, check out my post on Forbes this week, “For Love, Not Money.”)  After all, my guess is that Teleflora didn’t spend $3.5 million to stir a healthy discussion over the inherent self-interest in gift-giving, but to sell a boat-load of roses!

Teleflora wants guys to give flowers, and there is no question what they implied guys should expect to receive.  So, we give this and we get…that.  Sounds much less like a gift and more like a transaction.  A transaction no respectable man should be willing to make.  A transaction that strips every ounce of romanticism out of Valentine’s Day, or any occasion for that matter.

A gift from a heart of love simply isn’t a gift unless it’s given without reciprocal intent.

It’s no wonder that the results of my unscientific poll, based on Andrea’s and my Facebook and Twitter comments and questions, revealed that 60% of respondents share generally negative sentiments about V-day, with an additional 20% blithely apathetic.

While I recognize all the reasons for turning our back on V-day as valid, my not-yet-completely-extinguished optimistic streak inspires me to redeem, instead of discard, this beleaguered day.  My friend and colleague, Joe Pitzl, put it well in his poll response:

Valentine’s Day has become a commercialized “Hallmark holiday,” but that doesn’t mean you have to let that destroy the spirit of what it really stands for.  Our society has effectively redefined celebrating a holiday (and why we celebrate it) as spending money on stuff.  We ought to remember WHY holidays exist in the first place…and pausing from our busy lives to simply celebrate our love for one another (whether you spend anything or not) is a great a reason to celebrate as any!

What do you think?  Are we capable of redeeming Valentine’s Day from its commercial, transactional devolution?