Tierra Encantada

Monday, February 11, 2008

Under Pressure

The Valentine holiday is upon us and if you have a sweetheart, you may be under incredible pressure to do and/or buy something special for the holiday. If you are single, like me, you probably have no plans and hate the inevitable question of "What are you doing for Valentine's Day?"

More than any other holiday, I really feel for the pressure that many men are under. Expectations are bigger than those for Christmas, as if somehow what a man does for his Valentine's Day sweetheart is an indication of just how much he loves her. At least a dozen roses, outrageously overpriced for the occasion, are standard, as are cards, candy and a romantic dinner. And of course, there is jewelry, a diamond is forever though any precious metal and gemstone are happily accepted. Some women expect so much and fall into a fit of seething rage and/or depression when men fall short of their expectations. God bless the man whose florist can't make the delivery of roses to her office before close of business. Just a tip, if your florist can't guarantee delivery, deliver them yourself, take no chances. Of course you might look cheap for not putting up the extra dough for delivery, but it is better than denying her the oppotrtunity to gloat, while other women ohh and ahh over the fragrant bouquet.

It is often noted that women do things for other women, they dress for them, they put on makeup for them, they act a certain way for them. The inevitable competition between women is most apparent during Valentine's Day. Women ask other women what there plans are for two primary reasons: one, to point out the fact you are single because it somehow makes them feel superior in the fact that they are, if even for one day, coupled; and two, to compare plans so that they can gloat over the fact that their plans are better, more expensive, more elaborate, more original, more special or to get ideas of just how big the inequities are so that additional arrangements can be made in an effort to stack up to the competition. This is why so many single women detest Valentine's Day - you are made to feel somehow inferior by your singleness, even when every other time of the year you may be quite happily unattached.

There are normal people out there who are happy with a simple gesture and just getting time to spend with their sweetie, even if it means staying in, cooking a special dinner together just to avoid the crowds. On one hand, true romance really can't be scripted, but on the other, it is nice to have that little nudge to do something special for someone you really love because all too often people are too busy and preoccupied with things going on in their lives to make love and romance the event of the day.

At the other end of the spectrum there are those that detest the holiday altogether and avoid gifts and cards or mention of it. It is fine if there is mutual dislike, but you have to feel for those that would love something as simple as a home made card or a few tender words and get zilch. Honestly, you have to wonder about those people that never give gifts. Some people just never do, not for Christmas, not for birthdays, never. The other person often bears it quietly, but in their hearts are hurt. Being generous with the people we claim to love should include gifts of some sort. Now, I am not saying it has to be expensive or store bought or wrapped in pretty paper. But the littlest thing given because you want to and not because you have to means a lot. Giving the gift of ourselves is often the best thing we can give, be it through some heart felt words, a hug, time, laughter, a song. Even the smallest thing done or given with consideration for the person receiving it is really what matters, yes, it is the thought that counts.

What I think is most important in any relationship, is what we give to the relationship everyday. What we say, what we do, how generous we are with our affection and time and attention on a daily basis. That is really what nourishes a relationship, what really embodies love, both platonic and romantic love. Love is not something you just feel or a state you are in, love is an action, an effort we make. A hug, a kiss, an "i love you", changing her oil, making his favorite dessert, being kind to each other, saying please and thank you, giving comfort on a rough day, inserting some silliness and fun at a stressful time, a walk together, sharing hopes and dreams and fears, trusting each other with vulnerabilities, and acceptance despite flaws. I think if we were all more conscious about the love we give everyday, the commercialism of Valentine's Day or other holidays would dwindle. The "Just Because" gifts are the ones that really get to us all because they are unexpected and unscripted. If you reall want to surprise someone, show up one random day with a gift of flowers, get him the new game for his Wii that he's been wanting, slip a love note into his lunch, send an "I love you" text, whatever it is, do it just because, just because you love someone and want them to know you are thinking of them, appreciate them, and care for them.