Thursday’s commercial celebration of love is expected to draw in an estimated $20.7 billion from American consumers. Surely that’s enough to shower your special someone in flowers — or to buy out the florist.
But assuming the notion that money can’t buy love, the question is this: How much love — of the enduring variety — is America willing to give today, this month or this year?
Love-filled relationships can be the source of life’s greatest joys, but they don’t come cheap, and they don’t come easy. Love persists when it is a function of choice, sacrifice and mutual concern, despite Hollywood’s insistence to the contrary.
Consider George Shannon, a man who adequately provided for his wife of 41 years, although he admits he did so more out of habit than passion, reports Lois Collins of the Deseret News. When his wife suffered a stroke, however, he chose to put her needs first, doing everything “to make every day she had the best day of her life.”
What the two of them found was an increase in devotion that followed an increase in sacrifice in their later years. But it shouldn’t always take a medical catastrophe to ensure others feel their needs are met. How many would welcome a bit more quality time, a little more affection or a tad more concern from their loved ones?
America’s elderly certainly would. According to the latest reports, associational life is deteriorating among society’s eldest ranks.
Family members have spread out further than in the past, aided by technology and an evolving economy. Fewer children born also means fewer caretakers once parents reach old age. The social media that was supposed to tether relationships has ironically isolated its members. The country is aging alone.
Daily life becomes harder with age, but the neighbor, daughter, son or grandchild was traditionally there to help with routine tasks. That help has declined in recent years.Comment on this story
Additionally, the older generation now faces an increasing divorce rate, despite stabilizing rates across most other age groups. Divorce among those 50 and older has roughly doubled in the past 25 years, according to Pew Research Center. Aging is difficult enough without separating from one’s most immediate caretaker and friend.
The lesson here is, the people the country will miss the soonest are also the ones who won’t get much of a slice of that $20.7 billion, nor are they likely to even get much in the way of a personal phone call or a thoughtful letter.
While romance may abound Thursday for the 51 percent who celebrate Valentine’s Day, and disdain may follow the 49 percent who don’t, both parties should recognize the love, time and attention they can give society’s revered — and forgotten — cohort.