Valentine’s Day is a holiday about love, which everyone loves; some of us love to hate it and there are those of us that genuinely love it. When you’re in grade school, it’s a happy time of cards, cupcakes and candy. As you get older and it stops being mandatory to play nice and treat everyone as equals, Valentine’s Day becomes a battleground between the “haves” and the “have nots”–as in those that have Valentines and those who don’t. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Tyler Durden is extremely pissed off as America’s one true love, consumerism, finds Hallmark millions of dollars richer.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day virtually my entire cognizant life. Between the ages of five and 25, I’ve seen myself on both sides of the battlefield. At five, cupcakes and candy were all I needed; I hadn’t the vaguest idea who or what a cupid was, nor did I care, as long as I was permitted to snack my way into a sugar coma, sans cavities. As an awkward adolescent, I exchanged cards and candy with my friends, both male and female. And in high school, when they sold roses in the courtyard, I was buying roses my freshmen year; dozens of them–for my grandfather’s grave.
My grandfather died on Valentine’s Day. I was fourteen years old and a freshman in high school. He wasn’t just my grandfather, but my everything–my father, grandfather, homework helper, mentor, everything. In fact, if he hadn’t worked for NASA and educated me on astronomy early on in life, I would have sworn he hung the moon. (And I can’t say that he hung the moon, but I can say that his name is in a capsule on it, along with several other engineers and technicians who helped launch that particular mission, which is close enough!)
Needless to say, Valentine’s Day became a day I despised. Misery loves company, yet I declined any dates I was asked on. I did this for years, even when I had a steady boyfriend. I adamantly refused to celebrate V Day. While other girls were receiving flowers, I was buying flowers and placing them on my grandfather’s grave.
I validated my vehement dislike for Valentine’s Day with tirades about how love shouldn’t cost money and consumerism is killing modern romance. I had long monologues about not needing a man or a partner to validate my existence. I had rants about how we should show love all year round, not just on one day. I wasn’t wrong by any means, but I wasn’t right, either.
In 2011, I went on my first official Valentine’s Day date, ever. I was 25 years old, and I was incredibly nervous. I’d given him a Surgeon General’s warning-style disclaimer in an effort to deter him, but I found myself wanting to face my fears and go on the date. The relationship was very new, and I couldn’t decide whether to get him a gift or not. At the last minute, I decided to bake him cupcakes and put them on a fancy tray with a balloon. I was so nervous that I messed up two batches of cupcakes before I got it right. (Note: A shot glass does not do well as a measuring cup.) Three batches later, I got it right. The night went off without any major glitches after that–I didn’t trip and fall, didn’t spill my drink on myself, didn’t drop my dinner in my lap. It was a beautiful night. My mind was on the moment, then and there, instead of a thousand miles away at my grandfather’s grave. (We’re talking a literal thousand-something miles, from New York City to Florida.)
Even if he and I were to never speak again, I will always be thankful to him for sharing my first positive experience regarding Valentine’s Day with me. Long after the night was over, the lesson lingers–it’s okay to mess up the cupcakes; it even makes for a funny story. It’s okay to let go of the past and enjoy yourself. It’s okay to love. Really. It is okay!
I don’t hate Valentine’s Day anymore. I don’t have too. My heart is so filled with love that there is no room for hatred–not just romantic love, but love for humankind. It’s taken me 12 years to come this far, and I’m still learning. We all are! And that’s okay.
Whether you’re single or going steady, love is all around you, you just need to choose to allow and acknowledge it. If you have a steady, you can spice up your love life and rekindle the romance by taking it back to the basics. If you’re single, you may find yourself with a new date or two after your newly adjusted attitude. (No one wants to go on a date with Debbie Downer or Bitter Ben!) But it’s not even about scoring date. It’s about being the glorious being of love that you are.
- Valentine’s Day is a reminder to be kinder to ourselves and others. What are some ways you can be kinder to yourself? To others? Put them into practice and GIVE FREELY!
- You don’t need a romantic partner to have a love life. You can have a rich love life with yourself, your family, your friends, and even your pet. Don’t forget to love and appreciate them. Your partner should not be the sole recipient of your affections. In fact, relationships in which a partner is put on a pedestal seldom last. Practice keeping your partner as your equal.
- If Cupid is your homeboy and others aren’t fond of him, it costs you nothing to pay them no mind. In fact, send love to the naysayers. Remember that they may be putting up a guard or a defense mechanism to protect themselves and it has nothing to do with you.
- Love everyone, all the time. Even if they get on your nerves or rain on your parade. Rain can make for excellent ambiance, if you know what I mean.
- Concentrate on making every moment special, every day. One day a year cannot save a relationship. But in that one day, there are 24 hours with 60 minutes each, for a total of 1,440 minutes a day. That’s potential for 1,440 special moments. There are 365 days a year, each with 1,440 minutes of potential, for a total of 525,600 minutes. That’s 525,600 chances for special moments! Squeeze them in and find the time. A minute here and a minute there will go a long way!
- Relationships are mirrors. What we dislike in others are often traits we need to work on within ourselves. Instead of calling your partner out on his or her annoying habits, direct the focus inward. Spend less time criticizing and more time loving.
- Gratitude is the attitude. Energy flows where awareness goes. What we resist persists. What we focus on flourishes. Choose things that feel good. (I read a story about a woman who trained her husband with positive reinforcement, by only acknowledging the behaviors she wanted to see more of. She learned this from a dog training manual, by the way.)
- Allow yourself to receive all of the love and support around you! It’s okay. You DESERVE IT, simply because you are here! A lot of us, particularly women, have this difficulty in allowing others to do for us. We don’t know how to simply receive, because we are so caught up in wanting to take care of others. If this is you, go back to Step 7. Gratitude is the attitude. Simply receive with an attitude of gratitude. Sometimes smiling and saying “thank you” is all that’s required of you.
There is nothing wrong with love or being in love. And there’s nothing wrong with Valentine’s Day. It is us who chooses not to receive the love that’s in abundance all around us. We can choose differently. Bring the love back into life and bring life back into love!