How I Really Feel About Valentine’s Day
We all know Valentine’s Day is around the corner. You only have to go as far as the corner store to see the signals. The first things you see when you walk in are aisles stuffed with red and pink merchandise in the shape of hearts. Flip on the TV and you’re inundated with images of couples making eyes across a candlelit table and being surprised with diamond-encrusted jewelry. For some, Valentine’s Day is a welcomed holiday in the midst of a cold winter. For others, like me, it brings out our cynical side.
My guard immediately goes up at the first sight of heart-shaped candy boxes. I don’t like the commercialism of my love. I don’t like feeling forced to make dinner reservations just because everyone else is. I hate the cliche of red roses and teddy bears. Putting it simply, it’s not the holiday for me.
As I get older, it seems the magic of the holiday (any holiday really) loses its wonder. But the holiday hasn’t changed, just our relationship with it. In the case of Valentine’s Day, I got swept up in the wave of proving I have someone, one someone, that I love. I never really bounced back from the pressure and just abandoned the holiday altogether.
How My Feelings Changed
That changed when my daughter reached kindergarten. As we unpacked the nostalgic, tear-away kid’s cards for her class, my daughter had a lot of questions about the holiday. And as I answered her questions, I started to remember what the core of the holiday was about: spreading and sharing love with everyone.
In kindergarten, you give everyone in your class a note. You sit down and think about each person in the class. My daughter took care to match the specific card with the kid who would like it best. The holiday gave her the space to think about each person in her class. What they liked, what interests they shared. She talked about kids in her class I had never heard about before. No one was left out. It was an exercise in thinking about everyone she spent the bulk of her day with and what made them special. And it was lovely.
That conversation happened so organically it opened up my heart back up to the holiday.
It’s not about dinner.
It’s not about candles.
It’s not about candies or balloons or a dozen roses.
It’s about taking time to recognize the people in your life and finding the space to tell them how they make you feel. It’s not about romance. It’s about love, all the different kinds of it.
Modern life is busy. We forget to stop and smell the roses of friendship and love. Valentine’s Day is the opportunity for us all to do that. It’s our yearly reminder. The trappings and the frills are optional.
Making Valentine’s Day Meaningful
Here are some ideas I like to do to make my Valentine’s Day a little more meaningful like Valentine’s Day in Kindergarten:
The More the Merrier
Everyone is included. Instead of trying to build the most whimsically, romantic evening for two on a single day, I started thinking about how I could acknowledge all the people I love in small, thoughtful ways.
Make a list of all the people that fill your heart with love and write them a note. It doesn’t have to be on a fancy $5 card or personalized letterhead. All you need is a pen and paper. It truly is the thought that counts on this one.
Make Something by Hand
It could be a meal or craft or even the note counts. Anything that shows you took time to think about the people who mean the most to you to create something personal. I like to host a soup party on Valentine’s day. Everyone makes a big pot of soup, we share recipes, tell stories, and spend time swapping cards.
Break Away From the Routine
This is a big one. There’s over 70% chance that Valentine’s Day lands on a weekday. And weekdays are built on routines. There’s a reason why calling a sitter and booking a dinner reservation is the go-to move. It breaks up the day-to-day. But you can also break the routine in small ways. Eat dessert first, have a living room dance party, commute to work together, drop-in for a surprise lunch at school or with a friend. Add spice to your VDay by mixing it up in big and small ways.
Turn Off Screens
This is the one that might have the biggest impact. Make Valentine’s Day a no-screen day. Put down the smartphones and turn off the TV. Dedicate the day to connecting face to face. Our lives are built around devices but those things don’t give love back. So on Valentine’s Day, commit to putting anything that doesn’t love you back down for the day so you can fully connect with people that do.
Whether you love or loathe the commercial trappings of the holiday, Valentine’s Day is a staple of our culture. But I’m of the mindset that the meaning of the holiday begins to get bogged down and muddled after kindergarten. This year, try to incorporate your big-hearted inner child into the day. It doesn’t have to be a one-heart-shaped-size-fits-all experience. But it’s important to take stock in and acknowledge the people who fill your life with love.