Each year during the six month span between Christmas and Father’s Day, Holly and I go through a gauntlet of holiday expectations. During this six month stretch, society has made it quite clear about what we must do to prove our love for each other.
- December: Christmas. Buy stuff for each other.
- January: My birthday. Buy stuff for Travis. Post a facebook ode.
- February: Valentines Day. Buy stuff for each other, perhaps chocolates and flowers. Post a facebook ode.
- March: Anniversary. Buy stuff for each other, perhaps flowers. Post a facebook ode.
- April: Easter. Buy stuff for each other, perhaps candy.
- May: Mother’s Day. Buy stuff for Holly. Post a facebook ode.
- May: Holly’s birthday. Buy stuff for Holly. Post a facebook ode.
- June: Father’s Day. Buy stuff for Travis. Post a facebook ode.
It’s kind of exhausting.
The buying stuff thing is pretty self-explanatory. We’ve been told that on every holiday or occasion we are owed a gift, often a certain type or genre of gift as dictated by the holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy thinking through what to give Holly…twice a year. But when you start throwing in all those back-to-back occasions, it becomes a little draining, and it becomes a little robotic.
Besides the gifts, most occasions now come with the expectation of a public declaration of love, or what I’d like to call “the facebook ode.”
I’m not sure when exactly it began, but somewhere between Mark Zuckerburg’s dorm room and today we began feeling like it was a good idea to write public love letters on the internet about 6 times a year.
Facebook odes usually go something like this:
“It’s Jordan’s birthday! / It’s Father’s Day! / It’s our anniversary!”
“Jordan is 33! / Jordan has been a parent for 4 years! We’ve been married for 8 years!”
“Jordan is so great / Jordan is my rock / Jordan is so spontaneous and fun / Jordan is (insert adjective and praise points)”
“I love Jordan more than anything / I don’t know how I’d live without Jordan / (insert overally dramatic declarations of intense love and adoration)"
*Insert picture of Jordan*
Now I know what you’re thinking. What’s so bad about sharing with the world why your spouse or child or mom or dad or best friend is the best thing since sliced bread? Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s kind of nice. But having the expectation in place just makes it feel a little inorganic, and a little…something.
I’m probably just being a grumpy old man about this.
But am I?
Maybe I’m just old fashioned to think that a more romantic or deep way to express love to someone is through a letter or conversation or note meant for their eyes only. One that can be filled with details and inside jokes that only the two of you understand. It seems like every now and then a really amazing love-letter is dug up from history from some famous person to their spouse or to a great friend, and they’re always just so dang poignant and full of warm fuzzies. You read them and you’re like, “dang, those two had something legit.” I doubt that history will look back on Facebook odes and read them in the same way. There’s something about the privacy of expression that adds a whole lot of weight to it.
Maybe I just feel like every facebook ode is at least partially (or mostly) driven by expectation. We’re at the point where if you don’t post something on a birthday or anniversary or significant holiday then people start to feel bad. And at that point doesn’t a gift or kind words lose their meaning? The greatest love notes from my wife or friends or family I’ve received don’t come on a birthday or anniversary, they come out of the blue. Because when it comes out of the blue it tells me that the person wanted to give me that note and that they weren’t just “expected” into it because of the calendar.
Maybe I’m just exhausted from peaking into the love lives of random facebook acquaintances every time I scroll through my news feed or my instagram stories.
Maybe I just can’t get this nagging idea out of my head that sometimes people aren’t posting these odes for their adoring loved one…but rather a little more for their adoring public.
Maybe for me it feels a little too impossible to summarize your love for a spouse or child or family member at regularly scheduled holidays and birthdays and anniversaries. Love is much more personal and everyday than that. It’s shown in how you treat them and what you do with them day in and day out.
Maybe I just need to spend less time on the internet…
Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe the set reminders to express our affection aren’t the worst things in the world. Showing affection in any form is better than not showing it at all. So honestly, you should disregard me as a blogger who is looking for something to complain about. And there are a multitude of things out there that are more deserving of my complaints.
And you know what? On my anniversary this year I’m going to tell all my facebook friends why Holly is the bomb.com. And that’s going to make her feel good, and me feel good, and ultimately that’s the point.
But I suppose I’d ask everyone to scale it back. A facebook ode once a year is just beautiful. But when you start to post more odes than fingers on your left hand, it becomes a little much.
I suppose I’d ask for you to make the call on when you broadcast your public displays of affection, and not let society make that call for you.
The world definitely needs more love right now, but maybe primarily showing it in private is exactly what we need to do to strengthen our most important relationships.