Yesterday I was walking with a friend in the magical winter wonderland of freshly snow-covered woods when he asked me about my stance on Valentine’s Day.
Do you celebrate it? You don’t, do you?
I had to smile. I find myself having some version of this discussion every February. People seem polarized by Valentine’s Day and often want to take up these topics with people like me, who tend to think too deeply about such banal things. Truthfully, I don’t have a particularly firm stance on this one. Guilty perhaps of sentimental consumerism, Valentine’s Day seems innocuous enough. Celebrate it, don’t celebrate it; life goes on.
But for me, personally, the answer is always a resounding yes. Yes, I do celebrate Valentine’s Day, whether or not I’m with a partner, or with a partner who wants to celebrate it with me. Why? I’ll tell you why.
Because it’s fun! Much like birthdays and anniversaries and new years and new moons and harvest moons and solstices and whatever other milestones might be significant to you, celebrating these days is an excuse to do something different. To connect with people. To write a card or make someone breakfast or call an old friend and serenade them over the phone. Sure, I could do that any day, but I don’t. So it’s fun to have a reason to make life more vibrant.
Flowers. I buy flowers for myself all the time. It makes a nice change to buy them for someone else.
At the heart of it, it’s a day about celebrating love. And what the hell, guys? What kind of cold-hearted killjoy doesn’t want to celebrate love?
I can understand that for some of us, at certain times, the worldly celebration of romantic love can rub salt in fresh wounds, or remind us of an old, aching loneliness that we would rather forget. But as painful as it might be, that unquenched longing in our hearts is what signals that we are alive. That from within whatever injuries we might privately be nursing, or however long the road of disappointments and failures has been, some tiny, nascent part of us is reaching for the light. And while that may hurt in its still unmet appetence, it is this very tendril of longing that deserves our generous love. That quiet, resolute flame that refuses to be snuffed.
Love songs. I absolutely LOVE love songs. I mean come on… a shower song to yourself on Valentine’s morning? I THINK VERY MUCH SO.
It’s an opportunity to cherish someone. And no, I’m not talking about buying heart-shaped chocolates or creepy teddy bears or even going for an expensive dinner. If that’s your thing, cool. But how often do we really, truly cherish the people in our lives? To make time to be completely present with someone with the sole purpose of acknowledging and celebrating who they and how they impact us. And that person is not required to be a romantic partner. In fact it is equally, if not especially wonderful to cherish a friend, or a relative, or even a non-human pet.
It’s an opportunity to be cherished. And while, on the surface this can be uncomfortable for many people, I also think it is what is at the root of so many seemingly perfunctory Valentines expectations. It’s probably not about the gestures, it’s about a desire to be seen. To be acknowledged. To be appreciated and celebrated and adored. We all have that desire, whether we express it or not. If somebody is offering, I’ll happily receive it.
Watching other people be cherished. Okay I realise that sounds kind of creepy but I don’t mean camping out in the bushes spying on people through their curtains. I just mean witnessing the look of delight as co-workers receive unexpected bouquets, or the adorable glow of young couples canoodling on picnic blankets, or old couples holding hands. Being around love and seeing the way people light up on Valentine’s Day makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode in the best possible way.
Galentines. I have spent a few single Valentine’s Days with the gals and every one of them has been something to rival even the most romantic ones I’ve shared with lovers. I don’t know what the guys’ equivalent is, but I bet it RULZ.
Recounting past Valentine’s #fails. I once received a two-sizes too large pair of lacy knickers from a coworker I barely knew. That memory never #fails… to make me smile uncomfortably.
My Valentine’s Haiku tradition. Every year for three years now I have written a Valentine’s themed haiku and left it anonymously on someone’s windshield. Mostly I enjoy thinking my haiku-writing skills are very hilarious, but I also think it would be cool to be the recipient of that.
It is Valentine’s
snow is melting in the streets
you may as well smile.