Happy Valentine’s Day/Galentine’s Day/Singles Awareness Day/Couples Awareness Day/Whatever Day!
I’m pretty sure this is the one day of the entire year about which EVERYONE has very strong feelings.
I’m not sure there are enough emoji and internet memes to even begin to cover all the highs and lows people feel on this one day every year. You have everything from Claire-Danes-intense-chin-quiver criers to Julie-Andrews-in-Sound-of-Music-spinning-on-top-of-the-Austrian-mountains rejoicers to Captain-Kirk-furiously-yelling-KHAAAAAAAAN haters.
Valentine’s Day really brings out the crazy in us all, kids.
Needless to say, we all feel ALL THE FEELINGS.
I actually feel like the Switzerland in it all: I’m not really for or against it. I just basically try to stay out of it. I’m neutral in the war of lovers/haters of V-Day. I’m all quiet on the western front.
Growing up, Valentine’s Day always meant receiving chocolate and books or movies from my parents, picking out the coolest cards to give to my friends at school, and cutting out pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio and taping them to the cover of my trapper keeper.
Sure, I noticed the floral bouquets arriving around me, the giant stuffed animals from boyfriends with probable Napoleonic complexes (why ELSE would you feel compelled to buy a panda the size of Mama Cass to prove your “love” to your significant other?), the bedazzled cards with declarations of adoration on the front. But I never felt resentful of other people having significant others to shower them with these items of l’amour. It was just a fun little holiday, and the next day, everything returned to normal, and I never thought about it until the next year.I can see why some people hate this day. They think the commercialization of one of our most deeply (if not THE most deeply) felt emotions is sick and twisted and cruel. The singletons think it’s yet another dig at their uncoupled status worse than any offhand comment from a know-it-all Aunt named Mildred or Ethel who always asks, “Married yet? Tsk tsk.” Restaurants, theatres, massage parlors all give great discounts on February 14, but only for couples. I can understand being upset at not getting half off a deep-tissue massage and facial just because you don’t have some guy to go with you who really doesn’t care about it anyway (and if he DOES care about a massage and facial, he’s either Ryan Seacrest or possibly gay; though some straight men DO enjoy good skincare). It’s a little tyrannical, because single people like discounts too, ya know? Those that hate this day usually make exclamations about loving yourself first and asking why we don’t celebrate love the OTHER 364 days of the year. It’s the same thing year after year until they eventually find their prince charmings and finally get their damn couples discounts and wilting floral bouquets. Then the haters become the people they hated, posting photo after photo of their special day and gifts on Facebook so the world (and their Aunt Mildreds/Ethels) can see how much they’re loved.
See what I mean about feeling all the feelings? Valentine’s Day is the day everyone brings out their crazy. I bet therapists get more new patients this time of year than any other (someone check into that for me).
As the V-Day Switzerland, I admit it’s hard NOT to notice all this ranting for/against love. Everything about Valentine’s Day is meant to draw your attention to LOVE, the bold, capitalized version of it. LOVE is what the day is all about. Do you know how much I LOVE you? Can you feel the LOVE tonight?
(Which is still one of the greatest love ballads to come from a Disney movie EVER. Thanks, Elton John!)
But really, so much emphasis is put on LOVE today – whether that be a giant stuffed animal or box of chocolates or Hallmark card – that I think everyone, and I mean EVERYONE (haters/lovers alike) forget this day was intended to actually be about celebrating love. The lowercase version.
The lowercase version of love is not boastful or Napoleonic. It’s when a young man gives up his seat on the subway for an elderly lady with groceries. It’s when your best friend drops by with a cup of soup when you’re lying sick on your couch. It’s when you forgive someone for making a mistake. It’s when you play catch with your kid in the park or help them with their science project. It’s a hug or a high-five. It’s a phone call from your mom. Lowercase love is quiet and unpretentious. It’s simple and unconditional; always accepting of flaws. My guess is those who complain loudest about LOVE don’t realize how much actual love is already in their lives; they’re searching for some grand gesture (which, admittedly, can be nice once in awhile) instead of the feeling behind it. Basically, you’re looking for love in all the wrong places (i.e. hearts, flowers, candy, teddy bears, lingerie teddys, etc).
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1st Corinthians 13:4-7
The verse seems like a cliché by now after being used at so many weddings, but if you really read it and take its message to heart, it’s a good reminder of what love SHOULD be. LOVE should not be mistaken for being love. Nor should we think that all LOVE doesn’t have some love behind it.
What is love to me? I think the best, most recent example is one from my mother. This past week has been a tough one for me financially; work has been slow and expenditures a little too high. I got myself into some trouble with my bank account and didn’t want to ask my parents for help yet again. My mother, without accusations or anger, called me to say she had taken care of it. She sincerely asked what was wrong, and I began to sob as I explained over the phone. “It’s my fault,” I cried, “and I didn’t want to ask for help again, because you and Dad have done enough for me already. I’m so sorry. I was going to take care of it somehow.” She shushed me and said she understood and just quietly took care of it. “Your dad and I know what it’s like to be young and struggling too, and we haven’t worked so hard all these years to not be able to help you and your brother once in awhile. We can’t take care of everything, but you shouldn’t feel like you can’t tell us when something is wrong. You’re our beautiful daughter and we will never give up on you.” And despite the fact my parents had already sent me a little box of chocolate and a book for Valentine’s Day a few days before, my mother’s words and selfless act made me feel more loved than that box of stuff.
So feel all your feelings today. Seriously. It’s good to get that stuff out! Rage against the heavens or swoon in a cloud of stardust. But know that you are loved, lowercase loved, whether you get that couples discount or not. It may not be some grand gesture of the furry or floral kind, but it lasts a lot longer. If you do it right, it lasts forever.
“It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends…If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” – Love Actually