It is that time of year again, when the love is in the air. Or it should be in the air. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, while many of us still have not managed to recover from the holiday season.
Traditionally, this grand affection is the first fun and light-hearted holiday after New Year’s Day. The holiday can be great if you have reason to celebrate. But it is a peculiar holiday. It is the only holiday that not everyone can participate in to the fullest.
Everyone can partake in Christmas. Celebrations can be as simple as putting up a tree and engaging in gift giving. The gifts don’t even have to be expensive, just thoughtful. If you really want to be a purist about it, a visit or two to the local church would not hurt either. And being a die-hard purist helping the less fortunate by participating in charity programs can not only be fulfilling, but can help you empathize with the spirit of Christmas. You don’t even have to be Christian to love Christmas.
I like Christmas. More accurately speaking, I like Christmas(es), the Armenian, the non-Armenian and the Eastern Orthodox versions.
Even Easter can be a populist holiday. For me, the first signs of Easter, as we don’t really have seasons here in Southern California, are summarized in the sights of my sister and mom finding and cutting out colorful fabrics from old dresses, shirts and ties. This is their preparation for painting eggs. The painted eggs turn out to be very artistic. Sometimes they are so good I end up keeping them in my fridge for a couple of years, with the hope that I will get around to photographing them at some point.
Yet, you don’t have to be as creative as my family to be able to have fun with eggs. You can just paint them solid red or green. Or you can just buy a bunny basket from the local supermarket. Getting dressed and going to church can also be a possibility. Needless to say, Thanksgiving is a holiday open to everyone. All you need is access to a turkey and the ability to be thankful. Having a family also helps, but it is really not a must.
Everyone who lives in America can celebrate all patriotic and state holidays. On the Fourth of July, you don’t need a pass to watch the fireworks or be proud of being an American.
You don’t even need to live in America to celebrate Fourth of July. I remember seeing pictures of people celebrating Fourth of July in Macedonia. I am not sure whether to take that as a sign of appreciation for America’s contributions to freedom and democracy around the world, or a statement of intent to travel to the New World. But regardless, it is an occasion that does not discriminate on who can and cannot observe.
But Valentine’s Day is a different animal. The holiday has an indisputable prerequisite: having a romantic partner. As such, Valentine’s Day discriminates against those of who do not claim a girlfriend or a boyfriend, a wife or a husband. It is a day of the haves and the have-nots.
Having said that, Valentine’s Day shares some common ground with Christmas. They both have the holiday rush, when everyone does their last-minute shopping to be prepared for the holiday. In an effort to have all the preconditions to celebrate Valentine’s Day, people have the choice of making sure they are not alone on that day. Thus, the Valentine’s Day holiday rush. On the bright side, and if you consider yourself a super-positive individual, the day can also be coined as the day of “singlehood.” After all, a significant segment of the population will be single on that day, and they need their own holiday that is parallel and concurrent with Valentine’s Day.
If your holiday shopping spree is fruitless, just remember what Marilyn Monroe said: “It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.”
But then again, we all know what happened to her.
As always, I will be looking forward to the day of the haves and the have-nots.
PATRICK AZADIAN is a writer and the creative director of a local marketing and graphic design studio living in Glendale. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.