For years, I hated Valentine’s Day. It felt like an artificial holiday that was filled with external pressure to BE ROMANTIC and spend money in an effort to prove to your loved one that you really do love them – even though you both already knew it and felt it as a truly lived and embodied experience. It also felt like a lot of potential for feeling rejected by someone. I remember feeling this back in elementary school as we gave and received cards to our classmates. In 8th grade, I gave a Valentine card anonymously to someone I had a MAJOR crush on; and he was trying to figure out who might have sent it. Well, someone recognized my handwriting in the card, and I felt so vulnerable and embarrassed. My relationship with that guy went from being platonic friends to pretending that we did not know each other. That continued through high school, even though we were in band classes together every single day for 4 more years! So, I suppose that this didn’t leave me with a very positive outlook towards this Hallmark holiday which became a day I dreaded – expecting to be disappointed in some way.
Back in the late 80’s, I was living with my boyfriend, Glen (who eventually became my husband) and all the women at work were asking me “what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?” or “what do you think Glen will do/give you for Valentine’s Day?” Even though I didn’t expect either of us to do anything special for this holiday – the pressure to have an answer for these co-workers the next day felt immense. Glen’s mom’s birthday was on Valentine’s Day, so that particular year, I caved to the pressure from my coworkers and went out and bought gifts and a sentimental card for my guy. I was a little excited to share them with him. So, what was his response when I gave him the gifts and card? “I’m sorry, honey, but I forgot that it was Valentine’s Day”. Guess who lost her shit over that one? I went into a major tirade about how it is a holiday that shares the date with his mom’s birthday, is the same day every year and advertising for it is blasted on every store window, ads in the newspaper and on TV and radio. He asked me why I was so upset; we didn’t usually bother with Valentine’s Day – because we bought each other gifts and cards throughout the year on a whim – whenever we wanted and we both knew that we carried deep love for one another. I took a deep breath and burst into tears and that took both of us by surprise! As he held me and tried to comfort me, I came to recognize that the ONLY reason I was disappointed was because I felt like I needed to tell my coworkers that we did something special or Glen gave me some awesome gift. I crack up about it now, thankfully!
We got engaged a few months later and got married that September. So, the next Valentine’s Day – he shocked me by giving me one of the most beautiful and meaningful cards I have ever received for anything. My heart was filled with joy and delight! Then, he asked me if I was ready for my gift! I was stunned and quite intrigued… He brought out a wrapped gift – a GORGEOUS piece of jewelry that I truly would have picked out myself – an emerald necklace “because you love jewelry and green looks stunning on you. I hope this makes up for last year’s Valentine’s Day!”. I exclaimed “this makes up for the next 10 years!” and I meant it.
With that being said, we do not always celebrate this holiday, but we often do. Usually we make a lovely meal, try a new bottle of wine, go somewhere we’ve never been or watch a romantic movie (usually, a Rom-Com) and we pause and share some of the things we adore about each other. Mostly, we just take the time and appreciate each other’s company and recognize the deep love and bond we share. Now, we celebrate of our own volition and that makes it even more special, authentic, and real – without any pressure to be, act or do something special.
This year, Glen’s mom, Edwina, would have been 94. We will also think about her and celebrate her birthday with a toast.
When I sat down to write this article, I thought that I was going to write about the practice of “Loving-Kindness” but what came out of my heart was this story about how my AMAZING, PATIENT, KIND, GENEROUS, INTELLIGENT, FUNNY, BEAUTIFUL, LOVING husband and I have evolved regarding Valentine’s Day. I will write the Loving-Kindness article separately.
For those of you who do not have a “partner” to spend Valentine’s Day with (or aren’t able to be with the person you would like to be with), I encourage you to do for yourself – what you would want someone else to do for you and spend the day doing something you LOVE. You are worthy of love and self-love is the BEST PLACE to start!
Here is an article to help you get started:
Valentine’s Day: The Gift of Mindfulness through Inner Love
Be kind, compassionate and generous to yourself and others.