Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means that much of our usual errand-running has been festooned with seas of red and pink chocolate boxes, plush bears holding hearts, roses of all shades, cards sporting everything from glitter to music, and heart-shaped jewelry cropping up everywhere. A racket; a “Hallmark holiday,” at least to some. But in the midst of the barrage of hearts and pink hues, I’ve been contemplating this particular day.
See, not only has Valentine’s Day never been, to my mind, merely a Hallmark holiday, but I have actually enjoyed it. Do stores of all kinds cash in on the commercial side of showing each other our affections? Oh, absolutely. But being that the widely-accepted foundation is the feast of St. Valentine, who risked life and limb to perform otherwise unsanctioned, criminal marriages in secret underground, I think love actually has EVERYTHING to do with it. That is why those chocolates that we (read: had better!) receive from significant others, parents, pals and -hey, why not? – ourselves have more than just aesthetic or gustatory significance. Just like the crafty Valentines, card boxes, and treats we put together for and with our children and their friends; and those candlelit dinners or horror movie binge-watch fests or Galentine’s Day wine outings or skating rink dates. All of it has absolutely everything to do with love, for in whatever way those events occur, they are in celebration of it.
Love should be celebrated. It is vital to our very existence. None of us, not one single one among us, can thrive without it. Self-love is an incontrovertible must in terms of giving ourselves and our souls the balance, peace, and confidence to accept an engage in the relationships and tasks with which life presents us. That love should be celebrated. Familial love is strong and fierce, comforting and nurturing. That love should be celebrated. Love between two partners is invigorating and nourishing, steadfast and filled with promise. That love should be celebrated. The love bound up in true friendship is yielding and reliable, joyful and uplifting. That love should be celebrated.
All of it can be fraught with trials and tested beyond measure. All of it can be shaken and torn asunder, which is precisely why I think having a day set aside to celebrate love’s beautiful, necessary presence in our lives, and in all its forms, is a pretty sound practice.
I’ve known more than one person to shun the trappings of Valentine’s Day out of disdain for its extravagance or frivolity, believing instead that everyday should be about recognizing and honoring love. I certainly see the wisdom in that, and I agree that everyday should be appreciated in such a way. Yet in my own life there are days that I know, well and fully, I have taken love in all of its capacities for granted, even while subconsciously relying on it with each move I make. There are times when I have let tides of emotion wash over me and tried to put a hold on love until the waters ebbed. And those are just the instances of which I am consciously aware. Who knows what I’ve done to love without realizing it? Because it is the most precious intangible I have, a day to celebrate it and those that I share it with is welcome. Plus, I will be completely honest – I very much look forward to that box of chocolates that it tends to bring with it for my own enjoyment.
That’s how I celebrate Valentine’s Day with my partner. Chocolates and cards. The rest has been filled in differently in different years. This year it’ll involve a homemade dinner a little more festive than our norm, with my son’s pudgy hands to help in the preparation. We’ve ice skated and watched werewolf films and consumed pretzels with beer cheese. It doesn’t matter what it IS that we do, so long as it’s something that we do together and with each other in mind. The devising of something the Valentine recipient will enjoy is itself an act of love. Which is why my pint-sized chocolate appreciator will get a big chocolate bar in a red wrapper, heart-shaped macaroni and a sweet book about bears, one of his favorite animals.
So in our house, on the 14th, we’ll delight in our chocolates and celebrate our most wondrous treasure: love.