Valentine’s Day: Learning to Embrace the (Damned) Holiday
Over the years, I have argued with myself about the legitimacy of Valentine’s Day. Often it seems like an ill-fated holiday designed to taunt and alienate the unloved. Tough-love lessons about Valentine’s Day usually begin as early as grade school. I remember my personal experience. Valentine’s Day was a day of cupcakes, candy, and sitting and waiting to see how many letters or hearts you’d get in your special holiday mailbox. At the end of the day, the boys and girls would count and compare what we’d received. Unavoidably, there was always the boy or girl who looked like this at the end of the day:
Unfortunately, the anxiety of the third grade classroom did not go away in junior high school, high school, college, or my adult life. In fact, it only became worse. The scar of empty-handedness on Valentine’s Day became a bigger deal as the years went by. In the hustle and bustle of all of the gift exchange, no gifts somehow makes you feel less valuable than all of the others carrying their badges of love.
Furthermore, as an adult, I find VDay to be an extremely commercial holiday. Stags and hens swamp to the malls to find a gift for their significant other, the value of which tells their loved one just how much they love them. The gifts are not usually very creative- a tie, a wallet, or a gift card for guys; roses, perfume, and chocolates for girls. How cliché right?
Nonetheless, as I have grown older, I have learned to embrace Vday as a celebration of love. From the sea of reds and pinks to the emotional commercials, our entire country magically becomes a place where we celebrate the people we love. There’s something special about that.
Admittedly, there have been a few moments that have chipped away at the ice around my heart about the day. One VDay, I received a paper heart with a hand-written message from my little niece, who had just learned to write letters. Another VDay, I was surprised to receive chocolates and appreciation letters from my students. On another Valentine’s Day, a platonic male friend surprised me with a Valentine’s Day dinner because he sensed my.. err… disillusionment with the
damned holiday. Then, there was the time, I came home stressed and annoyed and found that my mom placed fresh cut flowers on my bedroom desk. I also spent one Valentine’s Day at dinner with my sister.
What’s helped me the most in my journey towards embracing Valentine’s Day was just stepping back and looking at the holiday for what it is. It’s a day each year, where we stop and think about the people we love… and not just in a romantic way.
In the next few days before the big day of love, think about how you can spread love in your own creative and special way. Stop waiting for others to make the day for you. Take charge, and make it a great day for yourself by giving… instead of waiting to receive. Surprise your boyfriend or girlfriend, mom or dad, your niece or nephew, your grandparents, your siblings, your co-worker. Let the people in your life know you love them. Maybe, you will be in for some surprises, too.
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you can easily find yourself unhappy on Valentine’s Day. Instead, choose to make the most of the day. Valentine’s Day is highly unlikely to be abolished. It’s not going anywhere. I’ve learned that spreading love is a lot easier than being bitter on this inevitable holiday. So bottom line, make love, not hate. 🙂
Lots of Love,
The Classic Diva