It’s that time of year again. The love one.
Some people enjoy the concept of Valentine’s Day and like to spend time doing something special with their partners. Some people eat chocolate and drink boxed wine at midnight because they’re sad to be alone. Some people decide to go all in on the cynicism and complain about how Valentine’s Day is a scam that sets unrealistically high expectations for the success of relationships.
In years past, I’ve fallen into the latter camp. This year, though, I’m not going to do it — not because I don’t think Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday that tries to take your money. It is and it does.
But, instead of complaining, I want to give some love to a little dude who is not receiving nearly enough: Punxsutawney Phil.
Groundhog Day was on Feb. 2. Bet you forgot. According to Almanac, Phil saw his shadow, so we get six more weeks of winter. Now a lot of people hate winter, which means poor Phil just made an unpopular prediction.
I think it’s fair to assume that most people don’t blame Phil for the winter, as most discerning Americans understand that a prophet cannot change the future, he can merely tell us what it is.
Phil is not to blame for his visions and should not be vilified for giving us results we consider disappointing. However, this poor little man emerges from his burrow, stretches his tiny feet, perhaps yawns once, and turns around to see his shadow, only to be greeted with the disdain and irritation of a nation.
“It’s not your fault, Phil,” we all sigh in resignation. “You cannot be held responsible for the machinations of fate. Here are some carrots.” And Phil takes the carrots, but as he munches on them, it cannot escape his notice that his presence has not brought joy to the people around him, but depression and gloom. Phil has become a harbinger of sadness and frustration, and it must weigh on his tiny little groundhog soul.
I want to be clear that no research went into the actual care of Phil for this process. I assume that as a national treasure, he is cared for with dignity and respect. We can discuss how he is physically treated when his “Blackfish” documentary comes out.
However, the celebrity life is a hard one, and Phil has been thrust into the spotlight without any form of clear and willing consent. Not only is he famous without any input, but we are also placing undue pressure on his predictions.
Perhaps it would have been better if the god Apollo had cursed Phil’s prophecies to never be believed, for maybe then he would have been able to live his two to three on average (although potentially up to six) years in the wild in peace.
So, this Valentine’s Day, instead of complaining about being single again, or our partners again, or the fact that our partners forgot about Valentine’s Day despite it being marked on the calendar in a heart again, let’s take some time to send love and good vibes to American icon Punxsutawney Phil. The winter is not his fault. He is just a groundhog, albeit a pretty cool one.