Ah Amore! The month of love. Hallmark, Brachs, Godiva, florists, and all fine jewelry stores, even those romantic getaways and restaurants are eagerly awaiting it! How much do you love your sweetie? Open up your wallet and show them! The ads make it abundantly clear. As James Taylor crooned, “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel.”
In our society of commercialism, stuff and abundance, it’s just another occasion to sucker you in to buy even more. This one carries a particular guilt trip. If you love your honey how can you not show them through valuable merchandise? What kind of a heartless cad are you?
And, of course, Hallmark, et al, went beyond just your particular heartthrob to include the whole dang family in the celebration. From the kiddies all exchanging valentines in school (which, through the years, went from homemade hearts to purchased cards to candy and treats), to cards and gifts made for every one of your beloved family members. Don’t leave anyone out! And just a card (which now can run upwards of $7)? No way! What about the candy? The flowers? The stuffed animals? The jewelry? Showing everyone in your family that you love them can run a pretty good chunk of change!
So … my challenge to you is this: Why do we have to spend all this money (mostly on crap that will someday become part of the landfill) to “prove” to our families that we love them? Just because Hallmark told us to? Because companies want to make money selling us their products?
Where does it all end? It escalates year after year, holiday after holiday. The only place it can end is with you and me. We must all realize that how much you spend on a person does not equal how much you love them, especially when what you spend on them is for meaningless junk. If you are married or in a committed relationship with someone, you should be working together to make the most of your money, live below your means and save. Work together to make the holiday special. Make a special meal together, go on a sunset stroll somewhere, watch a romantic movie at home (free from the library!) Surprise your spouse with a heart-shaped cake you baked. A heartfelt letter written to them about how much you love them and why would certainly be more appreciated than something some greeting card writer came up with.
And as for the kiddos, yes you can shower them with gifts. In fact, you can shower them with gifts for all of the many Hallmark gift giving occasions that have sprung up throughout the calendar year, but what exactly are you teaching them? What are you creating? Perhaps you might want to think about what kind of adults you would like to raise them to be. What kind of expectations are you setting up for them? If you really feel you must note the occasion, how about making some heart shaped cookies and having fun frosting them together? Keep it simple. Resist the impulse to go overboard. That impulse is what got us into this overspending mode in the first place.
Yes, Amore! Love is a many splendored thing. We should tell our love ones that we love them, not just in February but always. And finding special ways to show them that we love them is a very sweet thing to do. Little love notes and special surprises are always cherished and appreciated, and go a long way towards keeping the love alive. But the danger comes in equating how much we spend, especially on things dictated to us by outside forces and advertising, with how much we love them. Make love, not debt!