Rethinking Valentine's Day

Yesterday, while my dental hygienist was scraping away, she told me her plan to leave at 2:00 to attend her 1st grade daughters “Friendship Party.” She went on to explain that the school’s tradition was to turn Valentines Day into Friendship week. Monday each child received a friendship bracelet. Tuesday they were allowed to wear their pajamas. Wednesday was special hat day. I forget what Thursday was, but Friendship week ended with the Friday Friendship party.

Ann was responsible for suppling the game prizes.

I was getting the picture. The school was trying to reimagine Valentine’s Day.

With no way to engage the conversation, I scrolled back to my elementary school Valentine’s day memories. I saw the Valentine’s box I so painstakingly created, cutting and pasting collages of love, friendship and desperation. My fear? That my box would not be full of cartoon puppies and kittens with X’s and O’s covered in pink and red hearts, asking for, and declaring friendship. Will you be my Valentine?

School Valentine parties highlighted my class status. My sense of self was based on the number of Valentine’s in my box at the end of the party, as well as, who the cards were from. I paid attention to whether the kids deemed popular graced me with their perforated, penny cards. I also noted how my stash compared to that of my neighbors. More than her, I was loved. Less than her, I was ashamed.

It seems Valentine's Day is a day where we, hopefully, will be told by our love that we are the most special, most loved and most appreciated person in his or her life. Problem is if you don’t have a “love” you miss out.

Sometimes, you miss out even if you have a love. He or she forgets, doesn’t believe in Valentine’s Day or is just a dud.

As it stands Valentine’s Day can be painful at worst, stressful at best.

Today, as I spooned bulk ground sage into a bag, the young woman standing next to me offered to use the same spoon because she needed sage too. She asked if I knew the measurement conversion from whole sage to ground sage. I confessed I didn't, that I was a dump and taste kind of cook. I asked her what she was making?

It sounded difficult, some kind of homemade Gnocchi with a special filling and sauce. She explained she was making it for her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. Her gift to him. Then she said, “I hope he likes it.”

“Well,” I said as I handed her the spoon and leveled my eyes to meet hers, “if he doesn’t…” She finished, “He’s not worth it.”

“Exactly,” I smiled, feeling very maternal.

All this got me thinking. What if we spent some portion of Valentine’s day considering our relationship to ourselves? What we love about ourselves. What we admire. How we crack ourselves up.

So let's reconsider Valentine's day.

How about a day that you take yourself out. Or stay in...whatever your pink and red heart desires.

A meal where you eat by candle light, on the good dishes, food that you love.

A day you surround yourself with people you love, hugging them because it feels good to you.

Buy yourself some fresh flowers.

Write yourself a valentine. Tell yourself how special you are!

Look yourself in the mirror, pause...really see yourself. Then ask, "Will I be my Valentine?"

I hope you say a definite, "YES!"


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