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It’s Time to Take Back Valentine’s Day – for all of us!

Valentine’s Day. It’s coming this Saturday whether you like it or not. Such a peculiar holiday, one that seems to draw lines in the sand between the supporters and haters. Each year I hear echoes of naysayers, “It’s a made up holiday by the greeting card companies…” Despite this, I still appreciate the holiday. The idea that, for one day a year, everyone thinks about love. Even when people condemn having a designated day about love as stupid, their thoughts are still focused on love. And what’s wrong with that? Here are some common arguments against V-tine Day and why they just don’t cut the mustard.

It’s commercial.
Yes, yes it is. But this point is but moot compared to every other holiday. Name one other holiday that isn’t tainted by the almighty hunt for the buck. In our capitalist society it only follows that if there’s a market with a demand, there will be a supply. If it bothers you, find a way around it. Make something, go rogue with no gift and create a memory instead. Hike, watch a sunset, play in the snow. But by George, for this girl, there will be chocolate on Valentine’s Day (except Hershey’s. The punks) and there will be a lot of it. I will regret nothing.

Forcing love to happen
I ask again, what’s wrong with carving out a day a year just to celebrate love? Remember that it is your choice how you commemorate it. If you treat the day as a commercial nightmare then that is exactly what it will be for you. Putting a price tag on a holiday does not invalidate it. If you’re with someone who demands a giant bear/flowers/gift/spendy dinner/etc. and wouldn’t appreciate a handmade card from the heart and a homecooked dinner, that’s your struggle. Don’t blame Valentine’s Day. And express those feelings to this person you are supposed to love. If they don’t see eye to eye, maybe you need a new partner. Love takes work, but it shouldn’t feel like work. If you’re trying too hard, you might be doing it wrong.

Reminding people of their loneliness
Lonely people do not feel more lonely on Valentine’s Day. This is some weird myth floating around that people persist on believing. Hollywood and television help to ram this idea down all our throats, typically because playing to stereotypes means the plot and writing can lapse. The truth is, lonely people are going to be lonely until they find someone, or at least start putting themselves out there. Doing a quick search online leads to singles events at restaurants, libraries, and Meetups. Follow the advice of Theresa Christine from Tremendous Times and choose from 5 Kickass Alternative Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day. Take this day and seize it. I can’t think of a better time for a lonely person to get out there and look for friendship than this day of the year. (Love doesn’t happen in a day. Make a friend and maybe you’ll fall in love someday). The couples out there celebrating their togetherness should be a confidence boost. “If they can find love so can I.” Let’s face it, there are some really strange people out there finding happiness with another. Embrace this day and find a way to meet someone new. When love is on the mind and in the air, the odds of finding someone special just might be better on this day than any other all year long.

Be Mine – Be Ours
My favorite part of any holiday are the traditions that come with it. The big ones like lighting the Menorah, hanging the stockings, dressing like ghouls and goblins, fireworks, etc. are all wonderful. But the traditions that mean the most to me are the little things, like getting to open one (and only one) gift under the tree with family on Christmas Eve. Like screaming the countdown of the last seconds of the year across our neighborhood from one house to another. Devouring my Mama Peg’s twice-baked po-date-ahs (potatoes, for the rest of you) at Thanksgiving. So, what about Valentine’s Day? The only two I can think of personally are my Dad always sending his girls a card, and my husband and I dining out to celebrate our engagement anniversary. What else do people do to celebrate this holiday and make it special? Maybe that’s why there’s resistance against it, there aren’t enough ways to make it ours. It’s time to put more traditions in place to effectively take back the holiday from the commercial death grip that leaves a storm cloud hanging over it every year. Let’s put an end to the feeling that this isn’t a “real holiday” and make it just that.

This Valentine’s Day, make a new tradition that’s special to you and share it with your friends and family. Do it every year. Oh, and tell me about it too, I can’t wait to make it one of mine. I’ll share one I come up too. In time, this holiday might finally feel like it’s worthy of all its potential. Here’s to our Valentine’s Day!

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Dear Hershey Company: It’s over. And it’s not me, it’s you.

My blogging assignment this week: write an open letter. This week I’ve been heated about The Hershey Company and their most recent bogus moves, so I chose to focus this assignment on them. Bear with me, this isn’t my usual area of expertise. Here goes nothin’.

Dear Hershey Company: It’s over. And it’s not me, it’s you.

The Hershey Company,

Today, we’re officially over. It’s true we’ve been on-again, off-again for years now, but I’m breaking up with you for real this time. I gave up Hershey Bars in my s’mores years ago, thanks to my introduction to Cadbury Dairy Milk on a visit to my sister in Vienna, Austria. However, after the recent announcement of your scandalous lawsuit, I’m upping the ante. I’ve purchased my last package of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I will seek out an alternative candy to replace my Rolo pretzel bite recipe as my go-to Potluck dessert. There will be no more Reece’s Pieces purchased at the movie theater to add the sweet to my salty popcorn. We’re done.

You, the corporate king of candy, have decided it would be in your best interest to prevent your oversees competitors at British Cadbury from distributing their products here in the United States. You sued, and we all got the news that you won earlier this week. Your excuse was that the product packaging was too confusing to consumers. I can’t help but be offended. Rebecca Orchant in her post on the HuffPost Blog explains it perfectly: “That’s right, they are actually saying out loud to our faces that they are protecting us from being too stupid to know which chocolates we are buying.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, The Hershey Company. But wait, hold the phone. While making claims of consumer confusion, you are actually counting on us to not know where the candy is coming from, because now YOU are going to be the producers of Cadbury candies, with your own inferior formula taking the place of the British Cadbury product. But these products will be branded as Cadbury. I see what you went and did there. How disgustingly deceitful, and such a double standard!

This lawsuit is a prime example of your desire to create a monopolistic stranglehold on this country’s chocolate candy supply. It hurts specialized American candy store owners by limiting their product variety and reducing their ability to compete with giant retailers. “I don’t know how we’ll survive,” says Nicky Perry, a chocolatier interviewed in the NY Times article After a Deal, British Chocolates Won’t Cross the Pond. Don’t think this means these little stores are going to bow down and cave in to selling your products instead. Not when they taste like the crap they do.

And then there’s all the other dirt about you, The Hershey Company. One doesn’t have to dig very far before uncovering a whole lot of question marks involving your potential child labor violations. Well, those do remain to be proven, since you’d been so swell at suppressing any and all information about your history of child labor and fair trade practices. Until the 2014 lawsuit forced you to open your records to your shareholders. Not to us, the public, the consumers, but at least to the people most closely invested in your company can have a look and help you figure out what best to bury for the biggest buck. Well played, my chocolate adversary. You win again.

Personally, I have a particular bone to pick with you because of what you have done to my favorite candy. Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai candies entered into my life on a Costco run, and my return trips there regularly involve at least one bag of them. Well, until two weeks ago, when upon opening the bag of deliciousness (our housemates all lovingly refer to them as “crackberries”), we discovered that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The “crackberries” didn’t squish the way they used to. They didn’t stick in my teeth the way they used to. They are almost chalky to taste compared to the juiciness of the before. And lo, right on the package, a new word glares out at us: FLAVORS. This candy used to be made with real fruit pieces. That was the appeal. That’s why I would pay more than $10.00 a bag for them. That’s what I used to justify them to myself when I ate way more than I should. Now they do not only taste weird, they’re made with even more artificial ingredients than before. A Google search led me to the reason why the “crackberries” have turned into “crapberries.” The reason, Hershey’s, is YOU. You bought out Brookside and ruined a perfectly wonderful product. You took out the real fruit and put in artificial flavoring and continue to market it at the obscene price it was offered for when it was actually worth it.

By writing this letter to you I’m not only declaring my own personal distaste for your abhorrent business practices, but also for your far inferior products. The most recent fight banning imported competition is in the process of blowing up in your face, as hundreds of thousands of consumers out there are learning more about your products than you ever wanted them to know. I hope it leads to more discerning chocolate lovers finding domestic producers with integrity and quality. And more trips to Europe to get a chance at the real Cadbury. Because we real chocolate lovers, thanks to the combination of your expensive legal team and dubious practices, won’t be able to get them here at home anymore.

So goodbye, Hershey’s. Don’t call me. And don’t even think about sending chocolate to apologize.

Meagz