In recent years good ‘ol Valentines Day has taken on the stigma of the Most Hated Holiday ever. There seems to be a movement by disgruntled SINGLES to start a counter revolution celebrating their right to remain uncoupled. Kicking it up a notch, other folks want to turn the day of hearts and flowers into a black holiday for sulking, licking wounds and hating on romance. Then, added to that is the well established group of haters that I call the, “He-Man Romance-Hater’s Club”, that group of guys who have objected to the holiday for years on the grounds that it manipulates them into spending money or God forbid, declaring their true intentions in a relationship. Well, folks, I feel you! Believe me, I get it. And I also disagree.
There is far too much display of false Hollywood-style affection associated with Valentines Day. In fact, I would go so far as to say there is too much pressure on people in general to display a lot of overt drama in connection to romantic relationships. Real bonded love relationships are wonderful experiences, but they aren’t all that romantic or drama filled. Real partnerships serve to absorb some the pain and drama we face in our careers, families, and other aspects of daily life. Real relationships are warm, accepting, soothing, homes for the heart. We get to be our real selves in them and still feel inspired to be our best selves.
People who seek drama in relationships are misguided at best. Seek your drama by challenging yourself to do a better job, invent a better mousetrap, become a better person or make the world a better place. The excitement and drama will find you! And when you come home after a hard day you will find a open hearted lover who accepts you, respects you and encourages you even if the world says you failed. Don’t create mistrust in your intimate relationships by stiring up drama.
Actually, it is because long term loving relationships are warm comfortable homes for the heart that real couples need a romance reminder, in the form of Valentines Day. As I’ve said, real committed relationships have a tendency to be very unromantic. I mean, living with another person exposes you to all their annoying bathroom habits and the realities of the messy nature of life in a human body. Yet, to maintain the relationship we have to remain sexually attracted. Which is precisely why real couples need a day to shine themselves up and go out on their best behavior (i.e. in public) to view their lover in the best possible light (usually, candle light since it softens so many flaws). Singles, please! We need this day much more than you do. We’re not trying to gloat or show off, we are trying to remind ourselves that we are more than parents or room-mates.
Maybe we go overboard, but don’t hate us because we’re trying to stay beautiful. You may one day need this yourselves. Being part of a couple does NOT make all your problems go away. Its just like leveling up in a game. You master some problems and encounter a set of new challenges. It doesn’t get easier, it just gives you new things to work on. Life, like the best of all games, is a continuing challenge by its very nature. For now, if you are not in a relationship that makes you naturally look forward to the fresh air of a little enforced romance, I have a suggestion.
Celebrate love where you find it. That is what this day is really for. Though I have spent some 49 years of my life without that true soul mate relationship I describe, Valentines Day has been one of my favorite holidays since I was very young. That’s because my mother always made a point of giving each of us kids a small expression of her love on V-Day. The gifts she gave were simple and inexpensive but they reflected what she knew of the unique character of each child. One Valentines Day she gave me a small plastic chess set. It probably cost her a dollar and it wasn’t even wrapped. But for me it is still a special memory. It showed me she knew me for the uber-nerd I really am long before being a nerd was cool, and she loved me anyway.
I have carried on that tradition with my own children. For years I was a single mom raising two daughters alone. I could have felt sorry for myself and turned negative and grouchy every February 14th, but instead I chose to shower my own girls with love and special gestures of affection. As a result I still love the holiday! I get my girls small tokens of love and appreciation each year. When I can afford it I take them out for a fancy V-Day dinner. Now that they are teens we also indulge in a tradition of post-Valentines-Day raids on the bargain chocolates in drug stores and Godiva boutiques!
Valentines Day, like love itself is what you make of it. If you make a tradition of giving and showing love and affection to others, you are guaranteed to feel love and affection in return. That’s just the way life is. If you face V-Day and love like an opportunity to receive, you are very likely to remain disappointed forever. That is also how life is. Invest yourself in life and love and you will receive much more than you ever expected in return. Wait to see what life will give to you without you giving first and you will find yourself with less and less.
So, enjoy this day of Love! If you don’t have kids, shower your friends with tokens of appreciation. Surprise your parents with a sign that you still care (despite their many short-comings). Reach out to random strangers, elderly people, other singles in your apartment, the baristas in your local coffee shop, Facebook friends and other gamers in your favorite game. Place random love notes on all the lockers at school. Buy a fistful of $1.00 balloons and hand them out to kids, lonely looking single parents, homeless folks, or sour old curmudgeons. Don’t be afraid to make someone’s day, or even their life a little brighter.
Yes, and Yes! Shower yourself with love and affection too! Start the day off right by looking at your weary old self in the mirror and saying, “I love you! You’re beautiful!” Keep doing it till you really believe it. I promise you you will find that love multiplies 10x when you dare to give it away. It only shrinks into a hard mean ball of resentment when you refuse to give it away, even to your lovely self.
No one is trying to hurt you or manipulate you with Valentines Day. Its just a reminder to Love. There really is only one way to love and that is to give freely and without resentment or expectation. Start with yourself.
I Love you back!,