« Previous  
 Next »

Greene: Be Mine

02/14/11 7:55AM By Stephanie Greene
 MP3   Download MP3 

(HOST)  Commentator Stephanie Greene finds good reason - as well as precedent - to express yourself this Valentine's Day.

(GREENE)  There are some ugly rumors circulating that Valentine's Day is just some trumped up excuse to sell greeting cards, jewelry and candy - pure commercialism. Don't believe it.

Saint Valentine did exist in the third century AD, and was imprisoned for helping persecuted Christians during the reign of Roman emperor Claudius II. While in prison, he converted his guards to Christianity and Claudius, who apparently had no sense of humor, had him executed.
    
Sainthood being the taxing vocation it is, there are no allowances for goofing off just because you happen to be in prison or even dead. In fact your to-do list lengthens.  There are always miracles to perform. One story has it that Valentine took pity on the jailer's blind daughter and restored her sight. Then she could read the encouraging note he wrote her on the eve of his execution, signed "from your Valentine".

According to my sources, Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers, fiances, lovers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, young people and the plague.

In other words, something for just about everyone. Even a saint would be spread a little thin with that list. But Valentine was smart as well as holy. He seems to have delegated a good part of the greeting and expression of love to us, his wayward human charges. Since it doesn't involve martyrdom or even prison, expressing fondness is something even the most fainthearted of us can probably manage.

I see Valentines as being kind of like manners. Of course they're unnatural.  The idea behind drilling your children in please or thank you, or excuse me or I'm sorry - whether or not the little urchins mean it - is that somewhere along the line, they will wake up and notice that they are grateful, sorry, appreciative or fond of someone. And you, wonderful parent that you are, will have provided the language in which to express these sentiments gracefully.

This being America, there is, of course, a rather neat dovetailing of commerce and emotional expression. The reams of red paper, the tons of chocolate and scented candles - to say nothing of all the doilies that go into this holiday - are mind boggling. The Greeting Card Association estimates 1 billion cards are sent every Valentine's Day, second only to Christmas in mail call.
 
And there are clearly people out there who enjoy this. If expressions of fondness are good for the recipient, they're even better for the sender. Your heart opens, you are reminded of all the people you love and are moved, momentarily at least, to tell them. In short, you feel gratitude, which is a sort of gateway emotion to - if not saintliness - then the glow of well being.
 
So make your Valentines if you deplore commercialism. Cut up old magazines, bake a cake, pull out the accordion and sing a song. And this being Vermont, you could even write your sentiments in the snow. Well, this winter at least.
comments powered by Disqus
Supported By
Become an Underwriter | Find an Underwiter