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Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Heartbreak of Valentine.


No. I will not post pink -frilly-hot-house flowers here.
I will not perpetuate the myth and the commercialism.
I will not become an advertisement maven today. Though, the couple above is worth listening to today:

The Comforters

I'm going to tell you why we should not celebrate this day.  You'll agree with me shortly.

When I was the principal of Almondale Middle School, the most anticipated dance by the thirteen and fourteen year old set was Valentine Dance, usually held either before or on the 14th, preferably at an evening dance.  The entire week was devoted to planning and decorating the gym for such an event.

Girls talked about the dress/heels/makeup.
Parents talked about refreshments, decorations, lighting, music, all the various details and logistics of putting on a dance.
Boys worried about not being the only ones there. They came to be entertained and surprised at all the fuss.

I worried about getting enough supervision and guidance.

Yes, guidance.

Inevitably, a dozen girls would be in tears even before the dance started. Something would happen to the dress, the friend they had hoped would show up, the friend who showed up but danced with somebody else, the friend who showed up but stood around the entire time. The worst part, they had not given themselves time to enjoy the evening with the friends they had. 

Their lives were ruined! An hour in the event, and many would call home in tears. Many remained locked in bathrooms, inconsolable, the rest of the evening.

By the end, only a handful of girls were happy and cheery. The rest were angry or sad; everyone  disappointed in something.

Now, if I had to evaluate  an event's success, at the top of the list would be the number of people who enjoyed the event.

Valentine's Day Dance would fail.

Nothing could turn out as anticipated.

The secret to happiness is to just let it happen. Don't plan it; don't coax it; don't spend a fortune in conjuring it.

40 comments:

Velva said...

I can remember those dances in junior high school. Too many expectations...It takes some life experience to just enjoy moments without pre-conceived notions or expectations. Well said!

becky at abbeystyle said...

I guess I was spared--my father didn't allow me to go to dances in school. My heart was broken when the boy I adored asked me to the dance and I had to turn him down. He went with another girl.

trousers said...

I agree with you: The secret to happiness is to just let it happen. Don't plan it; don't coax it; don't spend a fortune in conjuring it.

Especially in the context of overly commercialised pressure-fests like Valentine's Day.

Wander to the Wayside said...

I think it's rare that any event, planned or not, Valentine dance or Fourth of July picnic,14 or 40, can live up to the expectation and anticipation.

potsoc said...

In French schools in Quebec Valentine Day or any other day dances do not exist, only the graduation ball after secondary 5, CEGEP and university.
Valentine Day, for the wife and I, has a special meaning on that day 45 years ago we resumed a university friendship and 6 months later we got married. Usually we celebrate between the two of us but this year, today being a Sunday, our family lunch day, we feasted all toghether.
At other times my celibate daughters fully expect a Valentine from daddy...and I'd better deliver if I value life.

Dedene said...

You confirmed my life-long horror of any social events in public schools.
Happy V-day!

Nancy said...

Those were stressful times, weren't they? I guess V Day has never been a big deal to me. I tend to like those holidays that are inclusive, not exclusive.

Brian Miller said...

love those last couple lines...heartbreak is a part of love...and when you least expect it , love will sneak up and do its thing.

Sharon McPherson: AUTHOR said...

LV: Your story illustrates a good point. When I was growing up I never had high expectation, so whatever happened made me happy.

I must be weird (or something) but I've never been one to let a guy break my heart. I'm way to busy and too cool for that. lol

ellen abbott said...

I try not to have expectations> That way, I am never disappointed.

me said...

Entire week with 13-14 year olds in the throes of love? Mamma mia, what a nightmare!
However, no one can assign a day to the love, entire life should be full of it.

Jeanne said...

And everyone enjoys a micro-cosm of that event at some point in their single lives.

Madison said...

I totally agree that Valentine's Day has no business being celebrated in a middle school. Good grief. Anything that results in inconsolable girls locked in bathrooms would be the first clue.

Hilary said...

Those angst-filled high school days. They have a way of staying with many of us.

Eva Gallant said...

Dances prior to high school are unnecessary. Ventine's day or not. Locally, they have 8th grade proms where parents foot the bill for limos, etc. I think it's stupid, and unrealistic.

She Writes said...

I remember dances like this. Thank heavens I will never be THERE again.

Two of my nicest Valentine Days were the simple ones. They are the ones I will not ever forget. One was in eigth grade, and the boy I liked brought me a small stuffed animal hidden behind his back. Ah, so he loiked me too :). Another was a simple text this year. Just a nice message, no obligitory gifts that would have just conformed to commercial expectation. It was sincere and non commercial. I think I would choose the non commercial each and everytime. I like "real." I like it when things happen naturally.

Snowbrush said...

Gee, I just remember (as a kid) putting up little handmade folders into which everyone gave everyone else cards. That and a dance when I was thirteen at which my first date wore blue velvet, and we danced to the song "She Wore Blue Velvet."

Ocean Girl said...

When I asked my son about what love is, his exact answer was love is an image, people don't know what love is. Ask a 14 year old and she'll tell you it is Valentines's Day.

I was curious why he picked 14. We do not have school dances except some schools have recently adopt Proms. After reading your post, I think 13, 14 year olds are the most impressionable years.

Sophia said...

I TOTALLY agree with you on this post. Just let it happen...don't force things. Let it roll out on its own. It almost always, then, turns out perfectly. (With very little money spent, too!)

Cathy said...

Hello there
While they can be stressful for all concerned isn't that what growing up is all about - the emotions and pent up energy of the youngsters is ususally only hormone related and will subside as they mature. I don't think theres ever been any long term damage done over a social funtion that didn't live up to their expectations, but I could be wrong
Take care
Cathy

Shadow said...

oh gosh, at that age, expectations are soooooo high... realising that to not have expectations, thus ensuring fun, didn't happen til.... mmmm, last year? heee hee heee

RNSANE said...

I know kids who would be so forlorn in elementary school because they didn't get many Valentines but the more popular ones staggered under their load. It can be very hurtful!

the walking man said...

Letting the moments unfold and being satisfied in them as they do is easy for us...not so much so for a fourteen year old. *shrug* Painful as the nights like that are, it is the beginning of knowledge which has the potential to grow to wisdom as they age.

Gaston Studio said...

Ah yes, the angst of the hormonal 14 year old girl! And the sad thing is, you can't prepare them for all that heartache, no matter how much you try.

NitWit1 said...

I surely do agree with you. but it is oh so hard for a young person caught up in hormones, peer pressure and perceived acceptance/non-acceptance to see it that way. My Mother often stress those momentary events were but blips in life's purpose, but it took me many years to learn the lesson.

Excellent story for Valentine's Day or any event we put oversignify.

ds said...

Amen! I know someone who will benefit immensely from your advice. If only the agonies ended with high school...

LadyFi said...

OH I agree. Schools should ban Valentine's Day celebrations in order to avoid causing all the heartbreak the day can bring.

cheshire wife said...

There are two sides to everything.

SE'LAH... said...

We don't celebrate Valentine's in my household...we teach our daughter that everyday is a day to celebrate love.

School socials are so much pressure it seems.

Eternally Distracted said...

I totally agree... We never had Valentines dances at school - that is probably why!

Enchanted Oak said...

I loved looking through the valentines, with their silly little rhymes and puns, that my classmates passed out in the heart folders we had made and stapled to a bulletin board. This must have been second and third grade. The rule: If you gave Valentines, you had to give one to everyone in the class. So we all had stuffed hearts! Apparently, something so harmless and light-hearted becomes another duck entirely.

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

Your blog is for anyone who wishes to continue learning.

I love that.

So here I am.

Valentine's is a celebration of love and friendship. Unfortunately, it has been reduced to commercialism. And unless it is a lingerie shop, I think displaying lingerie on Valentine's is tasteless. But that's just me.

I love that I get flowers on non-Valentine's day. It is much more sweeter!

I remember those dances. Oh to be young! But at that age, we're not wise enough....I don't think.
We're bound to make mistakes...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

But sometimes, out of nowhere, it snows on Valentine's Day!! And it's lovely.

Reya Mellicker said...

We do put so much expectation into things, but Valentine's Day echoes the natural turning of the wheel. I like it.

And as for young girls, they will always find something to freak out about, yes? All grist for the mill.

♥ Braja said...

I think of the St Valentine's day massacre. I know, kinda retro-happy :))

vicki archer said...

Just let it happen....so true, xv.

Sarah Laurence said...

Good post! Even though I enjoy Valentine's Day now that I'm happily married, it puts too much pressure on kids and single people.

Maggie May said...

I think I agree with you on this one. Too much disappointment because at that age, everything is taken too seriously.

Nuts in May

Diana said...

Thanks for popping in!

Here's the link for the bread recipe, in case you didn't see that I posted it in the comments: http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/cookbook/2009/artisan-bread/boule.html