Valentine’s Day can be a seriously polarizing holiday. Some people absolutely adore it and look forward to an annual celebration of love and affection. Others find it a frustrating reminder of their single status, and some of those in relationships find themselves feeling anxious because of their desire to “get it right”. Then there are people like my friend Gloria, who enjoys wishing people a “Happy Hallmark Day”, and those who, like yours truly, aren’t in a relationship and don’t find that problematic.
People’s opinions are all over the place, but regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, and no matter what kind of Valentine’s Day you have in mind, I’m talking to you.
Yes, you. Because I’d like to propose that we all broaden our thoughts on how to think about February 14th. If it’s a day you tend to dread, a new approach might be just the ticket. If you’re a fan, why not try to make it even better? So hear’s what I’m suggesting:
Think about ALL the people you love.
When I flip open my copy of Webster’s Dictionary, the very first definition of “love” has nothing to do with romance (that’s the second one). The first definition is “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties”.
I love my parents. I love my sisters. I love my nieces. I love my friends. I love a lot of people, and despite what the advertisements tell me, I don’t see any reason to limit a celebration of love to just one aspect of such a powerful emotion. Whether you’re single, dating, or happily committed, thinking about all the love in your world can’t do anything but make you feel better about your life. Take some time to reflect and appreciate the special people in your life.
Celebrate ALL the people you love.
I think the romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day has been thoroughly covered elsewhere, so I’m going to skip that part. What I’m interested in is how to make Valentine’s Day a larger celebration of love in all its forms. So here are some things to consider:
- Non-romantic cards and notes. My parents send me a Valentine’s Day card every year, and just seeing it in the mailbox makes me feel great. Do you remember those cartoon Valentines that we all gave out in elementary school (when you had to give one to everyone in the class, which I think is a really good rule)? I bought three or four boxes of them at Target last week, and I’m going to be mailing them to friends and handing them to coworkers, because it’s fun. And a little bit silly. And maybe, just maybe, it will be the little thing that brightens someone’s day just when they need it. If cartoon cards aren’t your thing, try a more traditional card, or note, or email. I’d be willing to bet that it would make someone in your life really happy.
- Give a shout out to your favorite couple. Whether your relationship status is, chances are that you know a couple whose love and dedication to one another inspires you. Valentine’s Day is a great time to tell them how their relationship has affected you, and to celebrate their love. My mom and dad, my sister and brother-in-law, and my friend Katie and her husband are all wonderful examples of strong relationships, and it makes me happy just to be around them. On Valentine’s Day, I’m going to make sure they know that their love for each other makes my world a better place.
- Share some love with a single. A lot of single people really struggle with loneliness on Valentine’s Day. I used to find it difficult myself, so I can sympathize when someone gets hearts and flowers overload. I try to be especially aware of my single friends around this time of year, because I know that some of them are probably feeling down. I’ve found that a little bit of chocolate can go a long way, so I give out a lot of platonic candy.
- Share some love with whoever. The truth is that I give out a lot of candy, period. Not to mention little stuffed animals, gel pens, stickers…whatever I can collect and then hand someone as a little token that says “You’re important to me”.
Spread kindness, because kindness is love.
I shared some of my favorite acts of kindness in a post back in December (you can find it here). Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to spread as much kindness as possible. This year, I’m making kindness bingo cards and challenging my friends to play.
I might even give out prizes.
What are some other ways we can spread the love on February 14th (and beyond)? Share your ideas in the comments!