Okay, I’m about to write a SUPER cheesy post in which I admit something SUPER unpopular:
I like Valentine’s Day.
*ducks as people hurl conversation hearts at me*
Yeah that’s right, I said it! It’s one of my favorite holidays!
I’ll admit, I didn’t always like Valentine’s Day. I loathed it. Like many, it just seemed a painful annual reminder that I was single. But over the last few years it’s really grown on me. And then it became one of my favorites. I didn’t flip flop because I found myself in a relationship. Hallmark didn’t finally convince me. And it’s not because I wanted an excuse to eat candy — who needs an excuse to eat candy? 🙂 Admittedly, maaaaybe I like it a bit because of red. I do like red after all…
It’s because a few years ago, I inadvertently reclaimed Valentine’s Day.
As I sat sulking about another year without a significant other, I thought about all of the other single people also out there wishing they weren’t single mid-February. Part of me wanted to go find all of these people and give them a hug and remind them that just because we’re single doesn’t mean we aren’t lovable and don’t still have value — something I was struggling to remember about myself.
And I wanted to do something, though I wasn’t sure what. So, while watching TV I started cutting out hundreds of colored paper hearts. And then on Valentine’s Day morning I scattered them in the snow on a busy pedestrian path near my home. Sure, it was technically littering and some people probably saw it and scoffed at the sentiment. But I also prayed that others would see it and feel loved and valued and special — even if just for a moment. That it might brighten their day that there was someone out there thinking of them when setting up this colorful mess.
After I did it, I realized something. Valentine’s Day didn’t just annoy me because I wanted to FEEL loved. It also annoyed me because I want to EXPRESS love. God is love, and we were made in his image. Therefore I think we all desire to have avenues where we can express affection to others. I was surprised how much joy I discovered creating an expression of love for random strangers.
Ever since then, I’ve discovered that I like Valentine’s Day because it reminds to me to be grateful for the people in my life and my community. If Thanksgiving is being thankful for everything, for me Valentine’s Day is being thankful for people specifically. And also to remind them that they are loved — directly or indirectly by me, and absolutely and thoroughly and completely by God.
It’s a shame that we hear the word “love” and default to associating it primarily with romantic relationships. No wonder people abhor Valentine’s Day and have given it the nickname Singles Awareness Day! We’ve been brainwashed to think that the only love that counts is love between significant others. That’s great, but we sure need to broaden our perspective to see and appreciate and celebrate all of the other great relationships around us. (The advertising industry doesn’t help at all in this by bombarding us with messages that Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate and flowers and diamonds and sex and — above all — not optional if you’re in a romantic relationship.)
Don’t get me wrong: being in a loving relationship with a significant other is amazing. But it CANNOT completely fulfill your need to BE loved and TO love. And it isn’t meant to! Thank goodness because that’s ENORMOUS pressure.
There are many ways that people have shown me love and kindness. Like the coworker who left a doughnut on my desk a few weeks ago just because she knows I like doughnuts. And another coworker who gave me a cute little Angry Birds Valentine today. Like the friend who was driving past my house and stopped to rearrange some rocks on my front porch into the shape of a heart, just because. Or another friend who randomly bakes cookies, cakes, and truffles and shares them with me. Like when staff at church send me a card in the MAIL (yay, fun mail!) just to say thank you. Like how every year for over a decade my dad sends me Valentine’s flowers to remind me that he loves me. #parentingdoneright
All of this is just a cheesy post to say that — like so many things — Valentine’s Day is what we make it. And like Jackie DeShannon sang: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of… No, not just for some but for everyone.” We’re doing a great injustice to one of God’s greatest creations if we hold our ability to love in reserve, or only direct it at our significant other. Take a risk, unstopper your heart, and sprinkle some of that love around. The more you give, the more you’ll find you have to give. And you might find some joy as a bonus.
“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” -Mother Teresa
Random citizens of Boulder, if today you encounter some rocks painted with hearts on a bridge it’s a message from me to you: You are special. You are valuable. You are loved.
End of cheesy post.