A letter to the Grinch: Steal Valentine’s Day

February 2012

Dear Mr. Grinch:

They say that where God closes a door, He opens a window.  And, your commendable repentance for attempting to steal Christmas notwithstanding, I think it’d be a shame if your burglarious prowess, your immense imagination for devising wickedly larcenous plans (how many villains have earned unfavorable comparisons to seasick crocodiles?), should come to naught.  Your talents could be applied in a more worthy cause; and I hereby submit such a cause for your consideration.

You should steal Valentine’s Day.

In the stealing of Christmas you encounter two distinct problems.  The thoroughly profaned, secularized, sentimentalized, commercialized, and truncated version, which millions observe today, is hardly worth stealing.  The original version – the high holy Feast, the celebration of eternal wonder, joy, and love – cannot be stolen.  You know that from hard experience, of course, but you’re not alone.  Not even the dragon in the twelfth chapter of St John’s Revelation could rob Christmas.  So, to sum up: Larceny of profaned Christmas is unprofitable; and burglary of the real thing, impossible.

In stealing Valentine’s Day you’d encounter no such problems.  And just think about the public service you’d be doing by stealing Valentine’s Day.

Consider, for instance, the aesthetic atrocities for which Valentine’s Day bears responsibility.  No one possessed of sense and taste could approve of the proliferation of cheesy heart-shaped objects, which in February outpaces even the multiplication of cockroaches.  And what sensible person can tolerate with equanimity the slapdash application of various shades of rose, carnation, crimson, scarlet, ruby, cherry, and vermilion to any and every thing under the sun? G. K. Chesterton once said that painting the town red is a delightful thing – until you have done it.  Then the inhabitants of the red-hot hell of the red town will long, in vain, to see but once again a red rose in a green garden.  Why is it that, every February, certain compulsives feel the need to prove, one more time, that what Chesterton said of a red town is at least as true, and perhaps more true, of a pink-and-red town?  By stealing Valentine’s Day, you could spare all our eyes at least one of the annual triumphs of kitsch over beauty.

More significantly, think of how stealing Valentine’s Day would promote social harmony and justice.  It’s no secret that our nation presently suffers from profound divisions.  What with the Occupy Movement, the Tea Party, and the polarizing of our news sources, do we really need one more thing in which some revel, but at which others weep or gnash their teeth?  And lest you say “that’s life; you have to learn to deal maturely with disagreements and disappointments” (a reasonable rejoinder), do not think for a moment that I’m playing some variation on the politics of division and envy.  I’m talking about the alleviation of innocent, unnecessary suffering.  Consider the needless pains of exclusion that Valentine’s Day inflicts upon, say, the poor, innocent children who stay up all night, thoughtfully and generously composing Valentines to all twenty of their classmates, only to receive, say, three Valentines in return.  Or upon the single women who, through no fault of their own, sit at home dateless, flowerless, and possessed only of such chocolate as they purchased with their own hard-earned money.

And, unlike Christmas, on Valentine’s Day no one bothers even to pretend to spread the wealth.  At Christmastide the most crassly materialistic man might donate a few toys to his office’s toys-for-third-world-children toy drive, or some spare change to the Salvation Army, or a box of canned goods to the local homeless shelter.  Good luck finding any such general spirit of peace on earth and good will towards men on Valentine’s Day.  In its current incarnation, at least, it is an unrepentantly insular, provincial holiday.

Consider, Mr. Grinch, and act.  Act as only you can.

In appealing to your aesthetic and moral sensibilities, I have, thus far, assumed that your heart has kept the dimensions it acquired long ago, on that famous Christmas Day in Whoville.  But it’s possible, I suppose, that your heart has since reverted to its former size: two sizes too small.  If so, let me play Mephistopheles with you for a few moments.

First, if you stole Valentine’s Day, you would win the admiration of every man in America.  Oh, sure, the sensible ones wouldn’t care enough to hold celebrations or anything.  And there would be some (the boyfriends of those described under item Third, below) who’d feign indignation at your grand larceny.  But you could rest assured that even these would secretly, in the depths of their repressed manhood, want to give you a (well-earned) high five.

Second, by alleviating the annoyance of a not insignificant number of women, you would, by your larceny of Valentine’s Day, quickly rise up the ranks of eligible bachelors.  Granted, your being green might slow your rise up the hit parade of love a bit, but one heroic deed can go a long way toward overcoming an olivine complexion.  Just ask Princess Fiona.

Third – as perhaps I should have mentioned first – successfully burgling Valentine’s Day would certainly anger plenty of women.  You know, the ones who have boyfriends but no brains.  These would be up in arms.  And what fun is committing a crime if it doesn’t make you infamous at least to some notable demographic?

I have set forth only a very few inducements to revive your former larcenous intentions, and to transfer such intentions to Valentine’s Day.  Other inducements may well occur to you.  As to the manner in which you accomplish the great Valentine’s Day heist, I entrust all to your ingenuity and sound discretion.  Let your imagination run wild.  The only specific request I would make is that you somehow employ your dog in the business.  Instead of fastening antlers to him, do something appropriately cheeky for this little enterprise – for example, dressing him as Cupid.

Rest assured that I am available to provide any assistance you may require in the great plot to steal Valentine’s Day.  Indeed my only regret in sending this letter is that by soliciting you to steal Valentine’s Day, and by offering my assistance, and by inviting you to enter into a criminal conspiracy, I am disqualifying myself from serving as defense counsel if ever you are tried for this great crime.

I am, always,

                                           Sincerely yours,