Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I Love Valentine's Day

This morning on my way to work I checked Facebook on my phone. Among the statuses of "Happy Valentine's Day!" and posted photos of flowers, candy and balloons that friends found when they arrived at work, there were just as many "Happy Singles Awareness Day" and "I hate this holiday" statuses. It made me sad, because I'm pretty sure majority of those people are single today and wish that they weren't. I have been that person before, plenty of times! So I understand. But, when I was single on past Valentine's Days, I wasn't bitter about it.

When I was a kid I loved Valentine's Day. Despite the hassle of having to go out the night before, probably after two different sport practices and a Girl Scout meeting, my mom would pile my sister and I into the car and take us to Happy Harry's (awesome drug store in the Delaware area, now bought out by Walgreens - Boo.) and let us select our boxes of Valentines to share with classmates. We'd go home and stay up late, filling out each card, smudging names and my mom, scrambling to find class lists to ensure that we didn't leave out any classmates.

My mom always left early for work when we were kids. She was out of the house by 6:30am. But no matter what, when Kelsey and I woke up, there would be a small, heart shaped box of Russell Stover's chocolates waiting for us on the counter, with a card in a purple or pink envelope. As a kid, this was such a highlight and made me feel so special. Some years my mom would plan something awesome. I remember a few years coming home from school with Kelsey to a note on the front door with a rhyming message, a clue to lead us to another part of the house. Kelsey and I would embark on a Valentine's themed scavenger hunt, ending with us finding stuffed puppy dogs with heart tags on their collars in the dryer, or heart shaped balloons tied to our bedposts with a ring pop tied to the ribbon.

In college, I always received a package in the mail from her, filled with Nicco Candy Hearts, Red Hots, and a heart shaped Reese's Peanut Butter cup, and a Valentine's Card with a $20 bill, my mom's handwriting scrawled: "Use this to get something good for dinner with your friends! Love you to the moon and back! Mom" Growing up, Valentine's Day wasn't so much a day to celebrate a romance, but a day to celebrate the people who you love the most.

Another status I read this morning from a friend stated that she wasn't celebrating Valentine's Day with her loved one because they don't support corporate greed on such a commercialized holiday. I can respect that, but don't we all give into corporate greed somewhat at Christmastime? Buying our zillions of square feet of wrapping paper and standing in long lines to pay for our carts full of presents. Yes, corporate America benefits from that, but for people like myself, I'm just happy to have found a gift that I think a loved one will smile as they open, because it's from me and I thought to buy it for them. Commercialism sucks, but it's part of our lives. And if someone made a buck off the fact that my mom bought some chocolate, or Hallmark benefited from my mom's thoughtful choices of cards for Kelsey and I for years, then I'm okay with that. Because those are things I've never forgotten, memories that are seared into my being and probably helped make me who I am.

One of my favorite parts of Valentine's Day has always been making my own Valentines and sending them to the people I love the most. The last few years I've been so busy with this whole "being an adult in the real world" thing that I haven't had much time to work as hard as I used to. But, I still make a point to tell those who are closest to me how much I love them. Hell, when I was looking at flowers on 1-800-FLOWERS.com, I was considering which bouquet would be prettiest for my niece... let alone my significant other! I've always seen this holiday as a day to celebrate love in all forms of the word.

Others say that you should show love every day of the year, not just Valentine's Day. But, truth be told, we do get wrapped up in daily life. Jobs, dog, kids, activities, classes... I see Valentine's Day as a day to sit back and reflect on the people you appreciate in your life and the people who love you despite your flaws and shortcomings. Valentine's Day is beyond the realm of romantic love, at least to me.

So yes, tonight Hillary and I have plans to make our way over to Brookline for some yummy sushi, perusing our favorite book store, and then finishing the night with frozen yogurt. Yes, we will hold hands and express our love today more than we usually do. Today is a great reminder for us to slow down, enjoy a night together and reflect on the love we have for each other. But, If I were single today, I would be just as lucky and just as happy. My first thought when I woke up this morning was to text my mom and my sister to tell them that I love them. I got to work and sent a quick email to a few people who I love and who have affected my life in a positive way.

And, here I am on the internets, to express my love for all of you who have left me kind comments over the years, who showed "tough love" when I needed it, who grieved with me over losses and who have celebrated my triumphs and my happiness. Thank you, I love you, and Happy Valentine's Day from a girl who considers everyone in her life her valentine.


Vickie said...

Great post Kristen. I agree with you on many points and have always looked for ways to express my love without falling into commercial traps. For one thing, WB and I celebrate Valentine's on the 13th because that was our first date.

I think the key is to make those who you want to express love to, understand and feel your love rather than just falling back on the trappings of love often suggested by ads and the (I would say) superficial expectations created by the ads.

For us, it was always easier to get a reservation and a babysitter on the 13th, but as we thought about it, we thought maybe the 15th would have been even better because all the chocolate would be on sale.

Rachel Dolgin said...

This made me smile a whole lot. I too see valentines day as a thanksgiving in February - to enjoy a good special meal and express gratitude for the people in your life that you love! Love you awb!!

Rachel Dolgin said...
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Anonymous said...

I love this post. I often check by to see whether you have updated - because when you do it really strikes a chord with me! Thank you so much, x

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