As a kid growing up, I celebrated Valentines day every single year, the only way I knew how: making a card by hand with a heartfelt message in it and giving it to my mum. Funny how that always gave me more joy than most of the Valentines I’d celebrated in my older years, involving “other” girls, or women, depending on my age. I used to wonder why that was. Now that I know, I wish I could go back in time to pretty much every Valentines day and smack my younger self in the head. I could’ve saved so much money in teddy’s and chocolates.
I learned way too late that if it takes a globally recognised holiday for two people “in love” to express “said love” without boundaries,… then maybe actual “love” isn’t really part of that equation. After all, loving someone isn’t a 24 hour experience. It lasts long before and after when it is expected. Well at least it should. Maybe that’s partially why the hand-made cards I gave my mom as a kid felt like such grand feats of emotional expression: I truly loved her everyday of every year, and still do; the card was only one of many she got from me each year for different reasons; I made the card myself so it genuinely came from ME and; she would always put it up on display somewhere everyone would see it letting me know just how much my love was appreciated. And to top it off, it didn’t matter if the card was hideous, late or even forgotten… because nobody in this whole equation needed to be reminded that one loved the other.
For example, my best Valentines day in recent memory came a few years ago. I was flat broke and my girl knew it. As in, if I found a five pound note in my pocket, I was eating like a king for the next 3 nights, and that’s no exaggeration. My girl was ridiculously understanding and she decided she’d treat me instead but completely on her terms. I was just happy not to be in trouble. She’d drive us to a little scenic town not far from where we lived, we’d take in the sights and then end with dinner (I’d obviously pay for mine) and she’d drop me off home. Simple plan, simple day, nothing lavish. But we’d agreed on this well in advance, like over a week, and it blew my mind how genuinely not bothered she was in the days leading up to V-day. And no, this was not one of those “she was actually fuming inside” situations. We spent so much time together we might as well have lived together. I would have noticed if she was unhappy about it. So one day I asked her why she was so ok with it and she said (in her own words) that most days with me were that much better than anything she could expect for Valentines that the day itself had kinda lost some value to her (ok, her exact words were probably very different, but I got the message). My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe my ears. And as if it couldn’t get any better, she’d said it so casually and was genuinely surprised with my reaction as if to say this should be common knowledge. I thought to myself, “this is why I’m with you”. Funny thing is she did stuff like that all the time. I doubt she remembers that time as fondly but we’re still friends today so I must’ve done some things right.
Now I’m by no means saying we shouldn’t celebrate Valentines, far from it. But we need to understand what we claim to do in the name of love. Are we really acting out of love when we celebrate Valentines the way we do, or are we just following the trend; acting out of pressure; or even just being plain lazy. Think about this: the last time you treated someone for Valentines, if you had done the exact same thing on a random Thursday in May, would it have been at all out of place?; or better still, if you’d done absolutely nothing for your partner on Valentines day, would it have been much of an issue? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above, you might need to be showing a bit more love on a daily basis. Not buying more gifts, showing more love.
Valentines day itself should be merely a reminder or at most, a celebration of love that ALREADY EXISTS.