Rethinking Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is Sunday. Three days from now.

The card shops are overflowing with red and pink; there are hearts everywhere, and an entire store-length row of cards, from mushy to funny, for spouses, sweethearts, kids…even the dog and cat! There are singing stuffed animals everywhere, boxes of candy and all kinds of cute figurines that scream “I love you!” Saturday evening the shops will be full of guys who leave everything to the last minute, and then realize their wife or girlfriend is going to be really upset if they’re empty-handed Sunday morning.

The florist shops are full of red and pink roses, whose prices are inflated (of course!) for the weekend. After all, roses are in high demand right now, especially red ones! Mylar balloons are appropriately displayed, and deliveries are already hard to schedule, because there just isn’t enough time.

Chocolate-Covered-StrawberriesThe candy stores are equally busy, making all manner of chocolate goodies, and as quickly as they’re made, they’re walking out the door. Chocolate covered strawberries are a hugely popular item this year, and of course, extremely pricey!

And the restaurants are advertising their special romantic “dinner for two” packages, with special menus, special wines, and decadent desserts. And for an extra $5 or $10, they’ll include a rose or two. You’d better already have your reservations at the really popular places, or else you’re going to miss out!

Everywhere you go, you’re bombarded with reminders of Valentine’s Day. You’re even hit with them at the grocery store!

You’re supposed to show him/her how much you REALLY love them on this day. But what about the day before, and the day after? The week after? Don’t those days count as well? Why should we limit showing someone we love them to just one particular day?

But there are many people out there for which Valentine’s Day is just another reminder of what they’ve lost. Like Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can also be a very difficult day.

What about those individuals whose spouses have died, and they’re alone, perhaps for the first time, on Valentine’s Day. They may pass by a card display in a store and see those cards reading “To My Husband/Wife on Valentine’s Day” and suddenly the pain they’ve put away for months comes back as they remember last year’s celebration, and even the cards they may have exchanged.

What about those people whose spouses have deserted them for someone else? They, too, remember previous years, and are now thinking how he/she is with that other person having a wonderful time, while they’re sitting home alone, or perhaps wondering if during last year’s Valentine celebration their now “ex” was actually dreaming about someone else.

Then there’s the young woman who was happily planning her wedding until her fiancé told her just a month ago that he’s changed his mind and calling it off.

What about the young woman or young man who is still searching for that special person to share their life with, and year after year Valentine’s Day is the same? A constant reminder that there’s no one out there for them yet, while all their friends seem to have already found the love of their life. Why not them?

And there’s the couple who just got a devastating diagnosis from the doctor. Now they’re wondering if there’ll even be another Valentine’s Day together next year.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Valentine’s Day; I always have. I enjoy getting a card or two from my husband, and I won’t turn down a box of candy, although now I ask him not to spend money on cut flowers (give me a rosebush I can plant!). But over the past few years we’ve had so many friends going through so much, it has really caused me to reflect on how we think about our loved ones, and how often we actually tell them how important they are to us; how much we appreciate them.
If you’re like me, you don’t do it nearly enough. It’s easy to get so entrenched in our day to day activities that we don’t always take the time we should to let them know we love them, and how much we appreciate those little things they do. And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

We shouldn’t wait til Valentine’s Day to send a message of love, give a card or a box of candy, or take someone out to a special dinner. If we wait, how do we know there’ll be another opportunity? And if there’s no one special in your life right now, call a friend and go somewhere with them; who knows who you may meet because of that particular “date”?

Our daughter has never been one to look to a boyfriend, and now her DSCN8558husband, to shower her with gifts on Valentine’s Day. In fact, she told us many times in high school and college that it wasn’t important to her. “Why should we spend all that money for one day to impress someone? We should do it every day if we really care. It’s just a way for the stores to make money.” I used to worry about her sentiments being a bit misplaced, but looking back a few years, I believe she taught us a thing or two. Sure, she and Chris usually go out on that day, and she did actually decorate a big Valentine cookie for him one year, but her attitude has remained the same. We should show our loved ones each day how much we care about them. While we still can.

How about buying a few extra valentine cards to have around all year, just to surprise someone when they least expect it? It could brighten someone’s day more than you know! Let’s extend Valentine’s Day into a lot more than just one day. After all, true love is not limited to just one day each year.

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