This Thursday is Valentine's Day and I am torn. Is it a mindless, consumer-driven event, only perpetuated to make us all feel bad about ourselves, or is it rather a holiday to celebrate love, caring, and all of those other mushy yet very important and necessary feelings? I have to say, normally I would side with cynicism. Looking down the aisle of any supermarket one is bombarded with red and pink everything—fluffy teddy bears holding hearts that say “I luv you,” cartoon endorsed pre-made Valentines and candy stuffed into pink plastic hearts. In fact, I think that the plastic heart has become the perfect symbol for the holiday: it's cold, hard, and once you eat the candy, it's empty.
However, this year I'm turning over a new leaf. I have realized that my real distaste for the holiday is the fact that it makes people feel like crap. Every year around this time I hear friends complaining about the fact that they don't have a date or that they feel so pathetic for being 20-something and alone. And it's true that this holiday seems to solely celebrate only that rare breed of love which is expressed between couples. This sucks, but it can be altered. Valentine's Day just needs a makeover. I think it needs to celebrate one of the most overlooked and beautiful facets of love, the platonic kind, with lots of platonic hugs, of course.
Two weekends ago I too showed my support of platonic love. I got married to a very dear friend for no reason besides friendship. Initially the idea to marry my friend started as a joke and an excuse for the strangest themed party I could possibly think of. I think that our guests probably saw the celebration as a mockery of the institution of marriage and so did I as I had initially described the event to a friend as coming out of the most cynical place in our hearts.
Here's how it went down. Imagine 30 college kids, some dressed up, some not, crammed in a shoddy living room draped in crepe paper. Our groomsmen, consisting of my groom's actual girlfriend and two others, walked down the aisle holding candles. Then the groom, wearing a 70s tie and corduroy jacket, made his appearance. Next the bridesmaids appeared and then I walked out in an ill-fitting Value Village dress.
Our roommate, who had recently been ordained via the Universal Life Church, a Web site where you can get ordained in 20 easy minutes, started us off on our vows to love, honor, and cherish each other, etc. The guests cheered after each one, someone even shouting “Amen!”
We exchanged rings—I gave him a mood ring and he gave me a ring bought at the Goodwill inscribed “friend.”
Everyone cheered and we kissed—platonically, of course—threw the bouquet and garter and ate cake before running off to a huge house party further down the street.
Initially it all seemed very irreverent and silly. However, as I look at wedding band inscribed with the word “friend,” I am beginning to think we may have unintentionally done something (dare I say) profound. And now, in hindsight, I would like to think of it as a celebration of platonic love. Instead of mocking the institution of marriage I see it as actually mocking a world where there are no special ceremonies for honoring or cherishing friendship, until death do you part.
If perhaps you don't want to go through all of the trouble of marrying a friend there are other new Valentine's Day traditions you can create. Try a best friend's dinner date or a romantic homemade dinner with candles and your BFF for life. I also like platonically snuggling under a blanket with friends and watching DVDs of The Office. My personal favorite is grabbing a drink at a bar with a great friend and then recounting all of our good times together. But however you choose to celebrate, remember to let your friends know that they are ridiculously awesome this Feb. 14.