14 February, 2013

Treating Yourself or Others To A Treat


I want to post this English Lesson I wrote for one of my training groups. Hope you enjoy it!
It’s Valentine’s Day. Some people like to give gifts to their loved ones on this occasion. Others not. Molly Wizenberg, the author of A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, wrote in her blog:
“I’m not a curmudgeon*, I swear. I’m not one of those bitter types who while away February by spitting on the displays of pink-and-red heart garlands in the grocery store. It’s just that Valentine’s Day doesn’t really excite me. It’s not like Thanksgiving or Christmas, those holidays that come with catchy tunes to hum under your breath, the holidays that invite all sorts of baking and splurging and beautiful, endless buffet tables. Valentine’s Day feels a little stilted, that’s all. Too often, it’s like an obstacle course or a big end-of-term exam, a test to prove how good you are, or how impossibly romantic you can be. I like my romance under less fraught circumstances. It just feels more romantic that way.”
*curmudgeon: grump, bellyacher, moaner
It is easy to understand why many Germans believe the whole Valentine’s Day hype is just a circus. Valentine’s Day is not a German tradition. 
I wanted to share with you a description of what Valentine’s Day used to be, way back in the Stone Ages, before commercial marketing went amok.
During my childhood in Canada, we used to make Valentine cards for our friends, siblings, and parents. The cards were made of coloured paper pasted with napkin doilies. On the inside of the cards, we wrote poems we composed ourselves. They went something like this:
Roses are red. / Violets are blue. / I am happy to be your friend. / I hope you are happy to be mine too.
Rose are red. / Violets are blue. / I like your freckles / and your curly hair too.
Roses are red. / Violets are blue / You are so pretty / and really nice too.
Okay. You get the idea. It was not great literature. But, the thing was, we all really enjoyed making and receiving the valentine cards. There weren’t any gifts of expensive flowers, Belgium chocolates, or romantic dinners at a chic restaurant. It was just giving the people you liked a small personal treat.
Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a treat, no matter how small and no matter how insignificant the occasion? And during my childhood, Valentine’s Day really was insignificant. It was a sunny blip in deadlining ECG curve of those long cold dark winter months.
Here are a few suggestions for how you can treat yourself or others on Valentine’s Day:
  •  Call your mom and wish her a Happy Valentine’s. You will get more gold stars for this than you will calling on Mother’s Day, since that is more or less a duty call.
  • Compose a poem and send it as an email to a friend living far away (feel free to use the samples mentioned above).
  • Anonymously place marzipan hearts on each of your officemates’ desks. Enjoy the secrecy of your generosity. (Don’t forget to put one on your desk too.)
  • Take your children out for an ice cream treat. It’s fun eating ice cream in the middle of winter.
Exercise 
Many people don’t give Valentine’s Day gifts because they do not; a) want to be pressured to buy something on this day and prefer to give when they spontaneously want to treat someone with a gift, b) want to be part of the commercial hype
Try and recall the last three times:
  •  you gave someone a gift spontaneously
  • someone gave you a gift without it being Christmas or your birthday
  • you treated yourself to something special
I don’t know if your memory is anything like my own is, but I remember best the gifts I received on special occasions. Maybe the special occasions act as thumbtacks to fix the gift to the person in my mind.

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