Valentine’s Day is keeping us in the red

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There are holidays, and then there are holidays. Valentine’s Day is the former. Conspiracy theorists will tell you it is a conniving plot dreamt up by the floral-industrial complex, and an opportunity for the racketeers in the world of chocolate (choco-teers) and the greeting card writers (they really are called writers) to join forces as an unholy trinity. But everyone is getting in on the racket now. For some reason unknown to me, marketers are telling me to buy my sweetheart pajamas that cover every bit of skin from head to foot – inclusive, and teddy bears wearing people-clothes. How old do they think she is?

Valentine’s Day is a bellwether in a down economy. If men are truly willing to fork over their hard-earned money for cut plants, junk food, juvenile-minded cards, feet pajamas and stuffed animals that were either hocked during the commercial break of a sporting event or sold at the checkout line of a drug store, then the recession must be ending soon.

I’m all for the holiday. But then, I don’t have the money to throw away on crap. Also, I’d rather not see a grown adult wearing feet pajamas or getting gooey over a stuffed animal. Maybe I’ll get my wife flowers, although we prefer live plants to cut ones. What we enjoy is a good meal prepared by someone else. Considering all the great restaurants in this town, it seems like a much more desirable option than purchasing junk that I’ll end up having to carry out to the trash.

But back to the economy. This holiday is what’s wrong with the country. We’re barraged with advertisements inducing us to blow our income on novelties, trinkets, non-durable goods and made-in-China-type rubbish. That money could be better spent, saved or invested. That’s my lecture: Go green this Valentine’s Day. Rather than incentivize factory flower farms that destroy the soil with vast amounts of pesticides, plant some flowers. Rather than memorialize bears in stuffed form, go photograph a real one, or give that money to a wildlife conservation organization. Rather than dress your lover in an infantile fashion, get her something sexy (just keep in mind that mantra of sustainability: Less is more).

Valentine’s Day treats are not an essential need, but rather, a luxury commodity. When luxury goods and services are doing well, it’s a good bet that that people, particularly men, have expendable income – either that or they are desperate for the affections of another. That’s not necessarily true, though. It could be both. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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