Editorial: Rejecting the commercialism

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It’s hard to view Valentine’s Day as something other than a greeting card gimmick. Stores deck the aisles with hearts. Candy comes in red, white and pink editions. Chocolate sales soar.

Is it anything more than a clever sales pitch?

Yes.

Stripping away the chocolates, cards and jewelry, Valentine’s Day becomes something pretty simple: a celebration of love.

While little is known about the original St. Valentine(s), a few myths surround his martyrdom. One legend claims that Valentine was a Roman priest who secretly married young lovers despite a ban from the emperor. Another claims Valentine was an imprisoned Christian who fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Before being executed, he left a note for her signed “From your Valentine.”

Whatever the story, by the Middle Ages, St. Valentine’s Day became a day for celebrating love — pure, simple love between friends, families, lovers and strangers.

Today it should be the same.

Valentine’s Day should be a day of remembering the small vignettes of love that life grants us each day. These small moments are the true sweets of Valentine’s day. And those moments are all around us.

We see it in the eyes of a parent when a child walks for the first time. It shines from the eyes of children when they bring you their latest masterpieces. It lingers in the arms of a friend’s hug. It resonates in the words of a kind comment. Theses are the truly special moments in life.

It’s not the extravagant gestures with large bouquets or fireworks but the small moments that we hardly notice that are most precious in life.

In a world that constantly focuses of the flare, it can be hard to focus on the importance of the small and simple. In a 2007 CES Fireside, President James E. Faust cautioned the audience to focus on the inward rather than the outward sparkle. He shared the story of an acquaintance of his:

“Some years ago I became acquainted with a delightful and wonderful new friend. He is a successful businessman — charming, outgoing and well groomed. His spirituality shines through his countenance. A few months later I noticed a slight limp in his walk which had not been obvious before. That led to a closer observation. When I looked past the gracious smile, I noticed that my friend was slightly hunchbacked, with a somewhat misshapen spine. These physical defects were so well hidden by the natural goodness, warmth and great charm that they were as nothing in the total man. My friend accepts his physical defects with humility and strength and completely compensates for them with his natural personality.”

While we do not minimize some of the real challenges of life and love, perhaps today is a day to reflect on the love we do enjoy: A kind friend, an imperfect but loving father or mother, the little boy who waves to you from across the chapel. At some point nearly everyone reaches a point where they may feel entirely and utterly hopeless and alone. For those who feel this, know that the Savior loves you. Know that he has shown the way to give love even in the most dire circumstances.

Melissa Otani-Jensen recently posted, “Let us become women of legendary beauty through our love of others. Celebrate the love you have now. Remember those who care deeply for you. Remember to look up and thank the source of all this love.”

Even when we have nothing to give, we can look someone in the eye and smile, a seemingly small act, that can help someone else feel significant and noticed.

No matter our place in life — married, dating, single, whatever — we can experience these moments of love and find joy.

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