Seeing the wall of red and pink Valentine’s hearts that bombard the shelves in every Target, grocery store and drug store as soon as Christmas ends is likely to bring up some interesting feelings. And by interesting, I mean anxiety, disgust, fear and anger, to name a few.
The first whiff of milk chocolate can trigger memories of disappointments from Valentine’s past. Like the one where you had high expectations of a perfect, romantic date with your partner, but ended up with a bucket of KFC in front of the tv. Or the one where all of your friends had dates and plans and you were left home alone with a gallon of ice cream and a sappy movie on Lifetime, both which you later regretted. Or, maybe that didn’t happen to you, umm yeah, that was your friend.
For me, it seemed like regardless of my relationship status, Valentine’s Day was a letdown. When I was in a relationship, my expectations were so unrealistic, they could never be met. And when I was single, I felt like the odd man out. I could be perfectly comfortable and happy about being single every other day of the year, but this one day could be rough. Suddenly I felt less than and left out.
So, I started to ignore that the holiday even existed. I treated it like any other day, blocked out the displays of flowers and tiptoed discreetly through the day, hoping no one would notice me and give me their pity-filled expression when I told them I had no plans. One year I even strategically scheduled my flight to New Zealand so that I skipped Valentine’s Day entirely due to the time change.
No “holiday” should ever make anyone feel less than or left out. Sure, the premise of the day – love- is well-intentioned. But like a lot of things, it’s gotten twisted and commercialized to where it’s more about boxes of chocolates and expensive jewelry and if you are single, a big neon sign over your head flashing “lonely”.
But like everything else in life, this day is what we make of it. I realized I had a choice and I did not have to participate in this widely accepted version. If Valentine’s Day had changed from being about love to being overly commercialized, it certainly can be changed back.
Instead of judgments and expectations, it can be a day to remember to be kind to everyone and to show appreciation for those we love. And it can serve as a reminder to implement this not just on one day of the year but to bring it forward to every day.
What do you think? Want to join me in changing the current perception of what Valentine’s Day means? I know I won’t be skipping it this year.