I. Love. Valentines Day.
It has always been my favorite holiday.
I can vividly imagine the colors of construction paper used to make valentines- starchy red, light pink (dark pink if you have the fancy stuff), and that creamy white. I use to use paper doileys.
I had a book about valentines that I would sit on the floor of my room in early February and read over and over again.
|I'm positive it was one of these or a few of them.|
Upon reflection, I wasn't a particularly cute child. I was creative, and weird. And probably in my head a lot. I had friends at school but not a ton of them. I think my love for valentines started in Elementary school. Yeah, eating red-iced cookies and getting to have a party in the middle of February was fun, but what stood out to me was the yearly excitement of creating my own box, decorating it however I wanted, and receiving a note from every single kid in my class. AND getting to pick out my FAVORITE pre-printed cardstock valentine pun from the grocery store to give to my big crush. Nevermind that he didn't talk to me. Or that 20 years later he would send me an unsolicited dick pic, without having spoken to me within that time period. I can only imagine that he could tell from the extra hearts I wrote on his valentines in 2nd and 4th grade that he was my favorite, and that when lonliness struck decades later, I was easy prey? But that's not the point of this post.
It’s an interesting tradition to once a year require students to just “be nice” to all the other students. And perhaps knowing that it’s a lot to ask of young children, niceness is reduced to punny greetings on a folded piece of paper. And if you’re lucky, the piece of paper comes with a tasteless heart-shaped red lollipop with white ink around it that dissolves the moment it hits your tongue- which is about 5 seconds after most kids open their valentines box. I however, savored my valentines. I would wait until I got home and read each one, noting the way they signed their name and if they wrote anything extra.
I remember being disappointed when the box of valentines tradition didn't continue through middle school. Most years since then, I have still written, designed, created or at least purchased and signed a little valentine for friends and lovers. Because I LOVE Valentines Day.
Valentines Day gets a bad rap. It's like if Halloween was reduced to a holiday where you wear masks and eat candy. I admit that as a child that was the extent of Halloween for me, but as I got older, I learned about the historical importance around All Hallows Eve and why that time of year is significant for spirits. So Halloween is the holiday in which we honor and celebrate the dead. (And kids dress up in costumes and eat candy). In contrast, Valentines Day is the day we celebrate love. What other holiday is given to celebrate an emotion? And what emotion is more powerful than LOVE?
You can feel love. You can love a color or a song. You can be in love. You can adore, like, have passion for. If you love someone very much you can enter into an intimate relationship with them, which is loving someone so much that you trust them to be vulnerable around them. Not everyone will love that deep. Not everyone will have their heart broken. Not everyone will be married for 50 years or more. But every single person on this earth today and that has been on this earth in the past can love. And I think that's lovely.
Whether you love your car or your cat. That feeling that wells up inside of you of pride and agony when your beloved parents drop you off at college and make your bed and then get in the car and drive away, and you wonder if you'll ever see them again but feel grateful that you have them in your life and that thy brought you so far and taught you so much- that's love. I'm told that you can feel the "heart strings" taking root when holding your child for the first time-- that's love. Crying as your best friend kisses the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with and knowing she's going to be treated well and supported-- that's love.
It doesn't matter what langugae you speak, although the words for love in different language are impressively unique. On the Acoma Pueblo, I was taught that their word for love feels deeper then ours. It's not "just a feeling" but a description of the warm bubbles or butterflies that well up from your stomach and attempt to stop your heart.
So, maybe in 2021 this day has been resigned to be a corporate holiday about candy and expensive greeting cards. But I say we take it back. This year more than ever, we need to celebrate LOVE. Even if it's just for one day. It doesn't matter if you're married, gay, asexual or single. I've had highschool boyfriends cheat on me and a fiance that passed away less than three weeks before we hoped to get married, and you know what got me through it? Love. A song I loved. a meal I loved. friends. Clouds. My immense love of the sky and the changing weather and the warming spring. I'm capable of feeling it because I am capabale of LOVE and so are you.
So whether you are IN love or out of it, celebrate the face that you CAN love, you HAVE loved and you ARE loved. Even if it's just by your cat.