I was never a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I would host fabulous anti-Valentine’s Day parties with black hearts hanging upside down from the ceiling, and shame on the person who chose to wear red or pink. I served margaritas instead of champagne. They were not dreary singles’ parties – in fact, the guest lists included couples who appreciated my anti-establishment mentality.
Cynicism and soppiness of the fourteenth day of February aside, I’ve recently been pondering the utility of Valentine’s Day for different people. It’s not only singles who dread Valentine’s Day – some couples feel overly pressured by it as well. Yet certain people do not only love the holiday, they need it. Valentine’s Day provides for some a necessary outlet to express love and gratitude in a structured manner.
Some of us are more comfortable expressing our love for those around us every day. But for those of us who are not, Valentine’s Day provides a defined means of expression. Some may scoff at the contrived nature of overpriced boxes of chocolates, giant bouquets of roses, fancy watches or elegant 3-course meals. But there is comfort in routines like this, and these offerings can be equally expressive of appreciation and love as more unconventional gifts. Though means may differ, the love is equally legitimate.
As someone who formerly was none too enamoured with Valentine’s Day, I am sympathetic to some of the issues readers may have with the holiday. But I recently came to the realization that our feelings towards Valentine’s Day have nothing to do with the materialist aspects or with the pressures of being either single or in a partnership on this day. Our feelings fall within the realm of our control, and we must take the personal responsibility that comes along with controlling how we feel. We cannot change the systemic nature of Valentine’s Day, but we can control how we approach the events of the day and how we treat others.
Love occupies numerous dimensions – it can be shown not just to partners, but also to co-workers, neighbours, friends, family and humankind. But sharing love requires giving ourselves permission to do so. There are difficulties in opening oneself up to others and feeling secure with such strong emotions. The fears and vulnerabilities attached to expressions of love prevent many of us from loving fully during the year. Valentine’s Day thus serves as a safe haven where such expressions are not only encouraged, but expected. Valentine’s Day facilitates our displays of commitment, care, support, and appreciation.
I know I will feel more fulfilled just showing love to others on the day, regardless of my connection to them. Humanity is so often caught up in the intricacies of personal lives that we often forget that we are in this together. A little positive energy can enhance the experiences of so many people, and it often takes little more than a polite “how are you?” and a smile to change the course of a day. This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to giving yourself permission to appreciate and show love for ALL those you care about.
Contributor: Denise Ge