I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Valentine's Day. Although I try to remain positive about most things in life, I tend to fall into that camp that feels like Valentine's Day is a made up holiday designed to sell cards and strawberries made to look like tuxedos. There always seems to be this pressure on Valentine's Day, to find a gift, the perfect restaurant, to do something "romantic", usually focusing on a "traditional" man and woman relationship. Now, it's not like I'm anti-romance, but it's not really my thing, and I especially don't like forced gestures, like "Here are some flowers I bought because it's Valentine's Day". If you want to buy me flowers, buy me flowers, but don't do it because you feel obliged to because of some Valentine's hoopla. To be honest a random bouquet of flowers for seemingly no reason at all would be better appreciated than a standard bunch of red roses on the expected day, but that's just me. To me, with three kids and one on the way, romance just isn't at the top of my priorities in my relationship. Kindness, caring, support, those are important to me. Talking about my day after the kids are in bed, tiny everyday gestures, the simplicity of just enjoying each other's company. That's what I need.
The other thing about Valentine's Day is that is always feels really exclusionary. When I was in high school there was a school club that would sell Valentine carnations that were dyed different colors to mean different things. Red meant love, pink meant a crush, white meant friendship, and purple meant a secret admirer. In the week leading up to Valentine's Day kids would purchase their carnations to give and would fill out little tags with notes, and on the big day these would be handed out in your homeroom class. I luckily usually collected a decent amount, mostly white since I didn't date much in high school, and I sent out my fair share as well. Some girls got huge piles of carnations, and more often than not there were kids who didn't get one single flower. And it always made me feel bad, because why would a holiday that was supposed to be about love make some people feel left out? That seemed so contrary to the whole idea.
There was one kid in my homeroom year after year, and he never received one flower. To be honest, it didn't seem like it meant anything to him either way, outwardly at least. I wasn't friends with him, but I had known him since elementary school, and he was super quiet, kept to himself, and seemed more into studying than anything else. My senior year I decided to send him a flower, not really having any idea what he would think. I picked out a white friendship one, and spent some time thinking about what to say, should I write my name? Should I write nothing? I wound up writing just "Happy Valentine's Day" and wrote a smiley face. I didn't write my name. I didn't want to make it weird for him, wondering what my motive was, and the LAST thing I wanted him to think was that I felt bad for him for never getting any flowers.
That Valentine's Day as the flowers were all passed out I watched as they called his name, which they had never done. He looked up, confused, as the girl in charge of the flowers walked down the aisle of desks and gently placed the white flower on his desk. He flipped the card over for just a second, expressionless, and I was left feeling confused, wondering if I had done the right thing, wondering if it mattered or not, wondering what really prompted me to do it anyway. That day as I walked home from school in the chilly February weather I saw him up ahead, walking alone, as he did every day. He lived just a few blocks from me and I always either walked in front of him or in back of him, never together. That day before he turned down his block I almost caught up to him, hustling to get to my warm house, and I noticed that he still had the flower, poking out of his backpack, zipped all the way but just leaving enough room to have the top of it poke out. It made me feel like my heart was going to burst, and out of all the flowers I had sent over the four years in high school this one meant the most to me.
This year was Levy's first year at school, and she was very excited about making her Valentines for the class. A sheet came home with every name, along with instructions that there be a Valentine for every child. No one was left out. Sure, Levy has her "best friends" and kids she likes the best, but she was excited about making a Valentine for everyone. She assured me these were just "Love you like a friend" Valentines though, and not the kind "mommies and daddies give". This, to me, is the sweetest way to celebrate the holiday. The way that everyone is involved. All relationships are involved. Friends, loved ones, significant others, pets, everyone you know. It's a reminder that even if there is a kid in your class that you don't really like, they still deserve to be included, they still deserve to have a nice word directed to them, to feel that they matter.
I think in the long term, showing love, kindness, and compassion to everyone will be what matters most. Not the number of roses you got, or the necklace he picked out, or some horribly tacky heart print boxers (I think I actually purchased these for a boyfriend once, I cringe at the thought now). Remembering that love is all around us, even when it feels like it isn't. Remembering the power of a simple kind gesture. Knowing that feeling when that gesture is directed towards you, and knowing what it feels like when you are the one spreading the kindness. So today, from a place of love and kindness, I hope you all have a great day, I hope you all feel loved in some way, and I hope you can all show that love to another person, another being (furry perhaps), or find another way to simply put it back out there into the world. Hugs and kisses. xoxo