Not your average Valentine

I think abolishing Valentine’s Day would be a great idea.

I know. I know. It feels almost sacriligious.

Would you feel better if I said I felt the same about Mother’s Day? And Father’s Day? And any other “day”?

For about 2000 years, since obscure Roman events I won’t go into here, many have celebrated St. Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to (mostly) lovers and small children. What’s wrong with that?

Well, for the small children, nothing really. Except, who doesn’t remember counting your Valentines to see if you got one from everyone, and being devastated if you did not? Who didn’t compare their Valentines to others, to see that another got a bigger/cuter/prettier/more elaborate one from the person you’d set your eyes on? Who doesn’t remember the child in the room who – for whatever reason – didn’t give out Valentines, and, as a consequence, got very few? Who has forgotten not being a “favored friend” who got lollipops, Conversation Hearts, or other goodies from the classroom celebrities?

If any of those resonate with you, it’s probably obvious why I think Valentine’s Day is possibly a holiday that has outlived its relevancy.

But what about lovers and intimate others – those we reserve the adult Valentines for? What about candy hearts and red roses and expensive paper Valentines?

What about those who get none of those things on Valentines’ Day, or possibly, ever?

That doesn’t feel good. Nor does it feel loving to have high expectations for the day and then have them dashed.

I won’t even go into the way Valentine’s Day tugs at the hearts of those who are single, newly single, divorced, widowed … how painful this holiday is for so many people.

If you are one of the ones with joy on Valentine’s Day, consider yourself lucky. If heart-shaped balloons, beribboned boxes of yummies, and fragrant roses are part of your life, you are blessed. Do you really need a holiday to assure yourself of this fact?

Could we be compassionate on Valentine’s Day instead? Here are some ideas to make Valentine’s Day a bit more loving, in a different way:

  • Send a card to someone who may not get another.

  • Leave a wrapped treat in someone’s mailbox, on their desk, in their locker.

  • Call someone who doesn’t get out much. Chances are the opportunity to chat a bit will brighten their day.

  • Volunteer at a local non-profit, and try to extend love to everyone you meet there.

  • Look through your old Facebook photos and make a point of talking about them to friends who might need a smile.

  • Send someone a note about the impact they made on your life.

  • Spend a little quiet time giving thanks for your loved ones.

  • Make some Valentines with the kids, and spread them around all day – at the grocery store, the day care, wherever you find yourself. You’d be surprised the smiles you’ll get.

  • Have to have flowers? Buy a bouquet and leave it at the hospital. The staff will know who can use the pick-me-up most.

  • Consider donating to a local toiletries mission, or a local shelter – not candy hearts, but toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.

  • Send a Valentine thank-you to your community’s first responders.

  • Anonymously slip a gas or groceries gift card into someone’s shopping bag.

  • Pay the toll (coffee, McMuffin, etc.) for the person behind you.

There are many ways that we can broaden the meaning of Valentine’s Day, to leave room for those who wish to celebrate in the traditional way, as well as those who choose a different path. Doing for others is generally even more rewarding, and longer lasting, than chocolate.

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