I have a confession, Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday. However, spending time on social media has made me realize that Valentine's Day is a very polarizing holiday. People either embrace it or actively show disdain. It doesn't matter if the person is single or in a relationship either. I gave it some thought and here are my ideas on the whole Valentine's Day drama.
Remember back when we were kids and Valentine's Day was simple?
Back when boys were from Jupiter and Girls from Mars. In elementary school, you brought in a little card for every kid in your class, even the unpopular kid or the class bully. I know that naysayers will say that "Life isn't Fair" and that kids shouldn't be forced to give a card to kids that they don't like. My take is, it's a nice gesture. It's a small gesture, a simple one. It brings togetherness and a smile. Most elementary school kids have not developed a reason to hate Valentine's Day.
Then you get a little older and things shift. Valentine's Day becomes a popularity contest. You are no longer required to give a Valentine to your whole class. Some kids walk away loaded with cards/flowers/gifts, some kids have nothing. In junior high, some kids have formed romantic relationships and some have not, everyone knows who. The holiday takes a shift from a small token of friendship to all, to a more exclusive club.
For some, the holiday shifts again as you grow into adulthood. The focus is on it being a romantic holiday, one exclusive for couples. One, where love is shown through gifts, reservations at a steakhouse and cards.
I think the difference between people who celebrate Valentine's Day as an adult and those who shun it, is perspective.
I've always thought of Valentine's Day as the companion holiday to Thanksgiving. Only Valentine's Day wins, because gorging on chocolate trumps turkey. Both holidays are about taking a pause and being grateful for what you have in your life.
I dismiss the notion that Valentine's Day is exclusively a romantic holiday. Love is not exclusively the domain of romantic partnerships. There are many types of relationships in my life and people that I love, I honor them all.
I think that "Singles Awareness Day" is the dumbest thing ever and insulting. I've never felt less love on Valentine's Days in which I was single and I certainly never felt bothered by not being in a relationship.
My best Valentine's Day was in 2008. My mom had just died and my marriage was completely devastated and irreparable. My mom's ashes were to be interred at Forest Lawn and instead of having a big ceremony or watching them do it, I decided to have Valentine's Day be my first day back at work after bereavement leave.
When I got to work, I found a huge bouquet of flowers from my office family, welcoming me back. This was after receiving multiple flowers, cards, calls from so many very supportive coworkers, who were all so wonderful to me during such a difficult time. It happened to coincide with Valentine's Day and that was perfect, because I felt an overwhelming amount of friendship and love. This is what the holiday is all about to me, a reminder of love from anyone in your life.
The whole it's a "Hallmark Holiday" is completely dumb too. I spent over a year working at a Hallmark store, working every possible season and I can tell you that EVERY HOLIDAY is a Hallmark Holiday. It doesn't matter if it's a holiday you love, one you hate, or one that you've never heard of, there is a card for it. Trust me. People only seem to worry about the commercialism of a holiday, when it's one that they dislike. I rarely hear anyone complaining about the commercialism of Halloween, which is about as bad as it gets.
And while I am on this rant, why does Hallmark get slammed? They primarily sell cards and cheap knick-knacks. They are hardly a super-power of evil. Do the people who complain about Hallmark recieve a card in the mail and then lambast the giver as being hoodwinked by the cooperation into giving the card in the first place? Yes, they make their money by selling cards, but is the buying and giving of cards really such a product of consumerism? Can't it just be a nice gesture, whether you buy it from a store or make it yourself?
The biggest complaint seems to be that people don't understand why there needs to be a day to "Prove Their Love". Um, there isn't.
Speaking about romantic relationships, if yours is solid and you treat your partner with love, respect and care every day, then stuff like presents and grand gestures are icing on the cake. Valentine's Day is not a day to make up for what is lacking day-to-day. No present can repair love. In fact, presents are only meaningful, when the love is already there and then, the size of the present is meaningless.
You don't need to buy flowers, jewelry or chocolate on Valentine's Day. And you don't need to wait for a holiday, to go out and buy those things. You should do it, if and when the mood strikes. You don't need to feel pressure from television commercials. If someone you love makes you feel pressured to buy them a present, well, maybe that points to something else lacking.
Presents are icing, not mandatory.
Last year, Dan was out of town for work, so I spent Valentine's Day with my family. Dan sent presents to the house, many very thoughtful and traditional gestures, including two dozen chocolate covered strawberries which we all enjoyed. It was a wonderful Valentine's Day, because I was surrounded with love.
This year, will be even better, because Dan will be home. We made a pact to not exchange any presents and we are going to have fondue and champagne at home. This may seem like a special dinner for Valentine's Day, but fondue is a favorite meal and we guzzle champagne like it's water. It goes great with grilled cheese or pizza.
It really won't matter what we do, because we be together, like we are most Thursday nights, curled up on the couch and watching last night's episode of Modern Family.
I am marking my favorite holiday with a reflection on how grateful I am for so much love in my life. Love from friends, family and Dan. Some of you may even be reading this blog post and I just want you to know, that I am grateful that you are in my life, today and every day. Happy Valentine's Day!