How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Do you look forward to the opportunity to express your love — or do you despise the forced sentimentality of the holiday? Why?
How, if at all, do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?
In “Against Romance: An Un-Valentine,” Judith Hertog writes about why she prefers to ignore Valentine’s Day instead of indulge in the fairy-tale romance:
One Valentine’s Day many years ago, my spouse, Gil, brought home a bouquet of roses. I am Dutch and he is Israeli, so neither of us had grown up celebrating Valentine’s Day. But it was our first year as graduate students in the United States, and one of his classmates, shocked that he was planning to spend the evening at the library, convinced him that he’d risk losing my love if he didn’t bring me a romantic gift.
He came home with a bouquet of overpriced supermarket roses that would be on sale the next day. I wasn’t as much bothered by the price — even though I’m Dutch — as I was offended by his unoriginality. I threatened him with divorce if he ever again brought me overpriced roses or chocolates in mid-February. Relieved to be able to go back to his books, he agreed and has never again tried to be romantic.
A lethal combination of Hollywood sentimentality, Victorian romanticism and bridal-magazine kitsch has placed an impossible burden on love. We’re supposed to subject our relationships to some recipe for unfading ardor and permanent swoon and are made to believe we are failing if we just live in reality.
I object to the tyranny of perfect romance. I’d rather have a flawed relationship of my own than the kind of fairy tale love in which the lovers are replaceable elements in an arrangement of candlelight dinners, red roses and walks on the beach. I prefer my love imperfect.
Students, read the entire article, then tell us:
— What are some of your most memorable Valentine’s Day moments — good or bad?
— How much of a romantic are you? Do you fantasize about falling in love, being swept off your feet and finding your soul mate? Do you love giving and receiving grand romantic gestures, like lavish gifts and love letters? Or, do you not give much thought to love and romance in your daily life?
— What is the most romantic thing that you have ever seen or read about, that has happened to you or that you have done for someone else? In your opinion, what made it so special?
— Ms. Hertog writes: “A lethal combination of Hollywood sentimentality, Victorian romanticism and bridal-magazine kitsch has placed an impossible burden on love.” Do you agree? Do you ever feel pressured to have perfect, stress-free, always-happy relationships with your romantic partners, friends or family?
— Do you ever feel that an overly romantic view of love is problematic? Why or why not?
Related Valentine’s Day lesson plans and student activities from The Learning Network:
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