St. Valentine's Day is coming. Yes, yes - I am sure you know this already. You have seen the aisles at the grocery store laden with every heart-themed bauble you can imagine. Perhaps, like me, you even looked twice at that Valentine-themed Pillow Pet and considered it for your child. And then there is the Shopping Mall - jewelry, flowers, lingerie, perfume, and of course - chocolate.
And there is someone we can blame for all of this madness.
Yep, Chaucer is to blame for turning a day of a martyr into a day devoted primarily to romantic, or Eros, love. You see, in 1382, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem declaring St. Valentine's Day a day of romantic love in honor of the engagement of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. And even then, the date has been wrongly noted, as the actual day for this St. Valentine is in May!
I am not anti-Valentine's Day, I am not anti-romantic, or Eros, love. I am, however, very much in favor of Agape love and think that this day is a perfect time for my family to focus on how we can show this type of love more prominently to the world around us.
One very tangible way is to be a more conscious consumer - to seek out ways to celebrate this day without being a proponent of exploitation via various forms of slavery. And perhaps, as a family, this holiday might be the perfect time to serve - a truly selfless act of love from one to another.
So, here are some ideas as to how we can, as a family, celebrate this day and love on the world around us via Agape.
Agape Love through Consumerism::
1. Chocolate: Did you know that the chocolate market is rife with slavery? Here is an article about it:
So, resist the temptation to buy those cute, colorful kisses and search out fair trade chocolate. Here is one of our favorites:
2. Jewelry: Consider finding a unique piece of jewelry which was made by the hands of a courageous woman who has kept she and her children from prostitution or her children from being taken to an orphanage through her beautiful craftsmanship. Here are a couple sites that we love, although, there are many, MANY to choose from:
3. Flowers: Consider skipping the $50 bouquet of roses that will die in a few days, and instead, invest in sustainable agriculture in poverty-stricken parts of the world. The Hunger Site, mentioned above, has options for this, as well as World Relief::
Agape Love through Servanthood::
I think the ideas are absolutely endless in this category and most likely, you can come up with better ones than I - and when you do, I hope you will consider sharing them with us.
Our family is going to simply bake heart-shaped sugar cookies, decorate them, bag them, and give them to our neighbors. Our plan is to try and go at a time of day in which someone might answer the door, so that we can interact with our neighbors face-to-face, and not just leave the cookies attached to the doorknob.
Secondly, we are going to do a little something for our teachers. And again, in our desire to respond with Agape love, our hope is to do something meaningful and unique for our teachers.
The ideas go on and on, and I am hoping that as you read this, the wheels are turning in your own mind of those around you that your family can reach out to on St. Valentine's Day with