This year, my daughter, Clementine, spent the week before Valentine’s Day making a card for everybody in her class. Since she’s in a multi-age class, this project entailed making a lot of Valentines–48 of them, to be precise. So it wasn’t too surprising when sometime around Valentine number 20 she started taking shortcuts. Unfortunately, the shortcut she used most often was to abbreviate “Valentine’s Day” into “V.D.” As in “Happy VD.”
Since Clementine is the type of person who is never satisfied with the short answer to anything, and since she also has the unnerving habit of trying to utilize all new words as often as possible, this was a can of worms I was more than a little loathe to open. And so, when confronted with the specter of either having Clementine ask every sniffling person around her if they “thought they might be coming down with syphilis,”or taking the cowardly way out and saying nothing, I did not hesitate to count myself amongst the chickens.
Besides, maybe she’s on the brink of discovering a whole new era in greeting cards: Hostility Greetings. Her market niche could be break-up cards, with each card featuring a cute, hand-drawn cover, followed by an inside message saying things like “Happy VD–Think of Me When You Pee,” or even “Congrats on Your Chlamydia (look it up yourself, smart guy”). You get the idea: it’s still all very much in the developmental stage–or, at least it could be, if I’m careful not to quash her creativity now with a slew of unnecessary “facts.”
Of course, Clementine’s possible future challenge of the Hallmark dynasty is just one of the reasons I didn’t point out her awkward choice of abbreviations–there was another, more fundamental reason for my silence. The truth is, what she puts on the cards really doesn’t matter, because, as everybody in the grade school set already knows, Valentine’s Day isn’t about the sentiment–it’s about the chocolate. It’s the same for Christmas, Easter, and Halloween–sure, kids know that there’s some kind of holiday involved, but as long as the candy keeps flowing, the specifics just aren’t that important. That’s what doomed Columbus Day–no chocolate. It’s also why all the people who try to stem the commercialization of religious holidays with slogans such as : “Let’s put the ‘Christ’ back in ‘Christmas’” don’t stand a chance. Until they start marketing a solid chocolate Jesus (and that won’t happen as long as there are people in the world who insist on always biting the heads off first), the Easter Bunny will own Easter.
You’d think that at least one of the major religions would have caught on to this by now; after all, it would be a great way to generate new recruits. I know, I know: they already offer eternal salvation and all that–a concept which is fine if you’re into delayed gratification–but if they ever want to attract those who like to live for the moment, those who consider a 15 second commercial break an excruciating interruption (in other words, those born after 1990), religions had better start thinking about handing out some of the good stuff now.
Interestingly enough–even though, historically, they haven’t really been into recruiting–it is the Jews who seem to have the best handle on this: a friend of mine recently told me that there is a Jewish holiday that not only encourages drinking, but eating cookies as well. That’s a start, but if they really want to pack ‘em in, they might consider switching out the cookies for chocolate, and even better, adding in some video games. While I can’t speak for everyone, I’m almost certain that if there were to be a Jewish holiday that offered video games, candy, and soda, my son Clyde would offer to circumcise himself.
Now I wonder if Clementine’s new card line will offer a card for that?