Last week, I let my journalistic roots run free and did a bit of informal polling/interviewing on twitter and facebook about people’s opinions on Valentine’s Day. A few interesting stories popped up, and for that my writer’s mind is excited and grateful, but not a single person came out in unadulterated support of the holiday. Most responses were apathetic at best, and a few verged on outright vitriol.
- “V-Day is a money drain…and stupid…”
- “Quite frankly I think the holiday is pointless.”
- “It’s not really the same once one has an established family and passing out valentines to others outside my wife would certainly be seen as questionable behavior.”
- “It just feels so corporate. I think it’s for people who have to be reminded that they love each other.”
Some people lamented the potentially depressing effects on singles:
- “I’ve never been fond of the holiday b/c I’ve never had a date during that time period. However, this year is different, so I’m actually looking forward to it!”
- “At uni I was single & heart broken on a V day & thought: This bites. Seeing the sad side of Valentine’s day must have ruined it for me, because I lost interest in it completely.”
- “Let’s just say I’m feeling very Jessica Biel about Valentine’s Day this year.”
Others are just trying to make the best situation they can out of their circumstances.
- “I’m trying to make my Valentine’s week as ‘happy’ and fun as possible; otherwise it has the potential of being a real downer for me!!! Especially this year!! Not gonna let that happen!!”
My favorite comment, though, was this one, from my friend Meg (@ahrdor):
- My humble opinion (with overly-black&white labels): *because* it’s such a big deal to the masses, if you *didn’t* take that day to (also) show off your loved one, you’re arrogant & lame. Ya know? Those who proclaim, “I don’t need a special day to say I love you” are just being silly. You got a Valentine? Be proud of it. Brag on her/him. Do it on every other day, but geez, really? Not on V-Day? <- I think that’s lame. For the record, I also think a mere dozen roses & restaurant visit is lame, but that’s just me. Some couples adore that & DO show their love that way. More power to ’em. Home-cooked meal, candles & lots’o’snuggle-like time is where it’s at for me! I’ve always had sucky V-Days & look forward to having one, someday, that kicks ass.
As for my own thoughts, I have a somewhat inexplicable love for the holiday. I have no spectacular Valentine’s-related romantic triumphs — quite the opposite in fact. Here’s a sampling from the high/lowlights reel of my life.
- 1993: I get to leave school for several hours and return just in time for the Valentine’s party with shiny new accessories: braces.
- 1997: In junior high, I get my first dozen roses from a boy, and I carry them to all my classes, reveling in being coupled on Valentine’s Day. (We break up two weeks later.)
- 2001: Eight months into my first serious relationship, I spend the day trying not to expect any surprises because my boyfriend is 1) poor, and 2) away at college. No surprises greet me whilst in school, but his mother shows up on my doorstep around 9 p.m. with a cellophane balloon.
- 2008: A relationship on the rocks leads to an awkward but, in my eyes, sweet dinner/movie date to an Irish pub with the most fantastic bread pudding and DEFINITELY, MAYBE, which turns out to be surprisingly good. I end the night feeling hopeful. I hear nothing for three days and later find out much of that time was spent in the company of another woman. It becomes my last coupled Valentine’s Day.
- 2010: A man outside a flower shop tasked with getting people into said flower shop hands me the dozen roses he’s supposed to be advertising. I try to refuse them because I don’t want him to get in trouble, but he insists. I leave with renewed faith in love and random acts of kindness.
Like Meg, I also hope to someday have a coupled Valentine’s Day that takes my breath away. But in the meantime, I can’t bring myself to feel bad or angry or resentful on Feb. 14 of every year. Even when you spin those negative emotions into something potentially fun, like Minneapolis’ Shred the Love Un-Valentine’s Event (H/T to @austinmn), all the negativity seems like a waste of energy. Why not take that energy and put it toward love? And the best part is, you get to define what that means. If I may be so bold, let me present a few ideas:
Volunteer somewhere that needs love. An after-school program, a nursing home, a library, an animal shelter, etc. There are plenty of needs out there; it’s not hard to find one to fill.
Reflect on what you love, and spend the day celebrating it. Love coffee? Take the time to truly savor a cup. Love to cook? Express it with a special hand-prepared meal. Love books? Make a date with a novel. Love films? Get thee to a movie theatre, or settle into your sofa with an old favorite. Love writing? Sit down and plug away at your current project, and revel in the fact that it’s so simple to engage in something you love.
Define “love” broadly, and express the sentiment to people you love. Friends, family, coworkers, your neighborhood baristas — anybody who makes you smile on a regular basis is eligible.
Don’t forget about yourself. “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance,” as Oscar Wilde so pithily pointed out. So, on Valentine’s Day, be a little kinder to yourself, too, in whatever way that means. Maybe it’s getting in a solid workout or taking a yoga class. Maybe it’s finally forgiving yourself for that One Big Mistake. Maybe it’s a mani/pedi or a facial. Maybe it’s as easy as getting to bed at a decent hour for once. Whatever it is, you deserve a little kindness, too.
So, as the Lone Unadulterated Lover of Valentine’s Day, that’s my two cents on the matter. So much in life is affected by how we frame our thoughts, and Feb. 14 strikes me as a great opportunity to refocus on sharing a little compassion toward ourselves and others while rekindling our passion for whom and what we love. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!