Happy Valentine’s Day! This is, for all intents and purposes, my version of a pink, fluffy Valentine’s Day article. I was thinking of recommending some cool websites offering up amazing discounts on obligatory Valentine gifts but you all have seen the commercials with the giant teddy bear gift. That girl so over-pretends to love that bear. And, if you think an adult-sized onesie romper is just the thing to heat things up between you and the Mrs., then, a PajamaGram awaits you. Flowers and candy, blah, blah, blah. Purchasing those is so yesterday, you must get creative to make Valentine’s Day gift-giving count. Sky-written love notes or rooms brimming with flowers might be a good start.
I considered featuring some area restaurants who are infusing their dinner menus with edible flowers and heart-shaped flans in my V-Day article, but, honestly, I think you are kind of crazy if you fight the other lovebirds for a table on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year. I say grab some wings or a pizza a few nights before the main event and call it good. And, besides, Valentine’s Day brings out everybody and celebrating “love” day with that many other people feels icky.
Instead, for my Valentine’s Day article this year, I am going to speak directly to the people who are over it; the people too busy working, raising kids, paying bills, navigating school schedules…. i.e. living, to care. Why buy into the notion that one night of dressing up, paying way too much for dinner, drinks, and a giant teddy bear says, “I love you,” any more than just simply saying…” I love you.” It’s silly.
This year, Valentine’s Day retailers are anticipating raking in a whopping $19.6 billion of your hard-earned dollars. And this, to just be a conduit between you and your beloved. It’s a little like hiring a mediator to relay your love on this specific day, in case you are not doing a good job of sharing the other 364 days of the year. I think in the beginning stages of a relationship Valentine’s Day is a way to solidify a path together as a new couple. But, after the first few Valentine’s Days together, you had better have a “love” plan for the rest of the time or all the Shari’s Berries in the field won’t save you.
Let’s talk about love. To me, love is no longer about flowers and cards that have needlessly rid the planet of another tree. I don’t need chocolates that will require me to run more to work off, and if I want to eat at a restaurant, I do it on any night I choose. Silly plaques with trite sayings just add clutter, and, again, the thought of finding room for a man-sized teddy bear seems daunting. Instead, love to me has evolved to include very basic actions on a mostly daily basis. You want to show love to a working mom? Put the dishes away before she gets home (this happens in my house,) and make her some soup or tea when she’s feeling down. Ask your love about their day, and try to smile through the mundane and trite details of life. Make her laugh. See her for who she is now and let her know everything is good. That is love.
Love with a significant other is never a perfect existence with a nicely organized vase of roses on February 14 as the cake-topper. Love is growing tired with each other at times and digging deep for reminders of what drew you to this person in the first place. It is picking their clothes up from the floor and making sandwiches with a smile on your face. And, why not, because nobody likes to live with a grouch. Love is facing trials, tribulations, and fear of growing older and realizing people will change, even your partner. Allowing that to happen without resistance is a gift. I think living in a relationship where you are handling challenges head on and where things get a little messy is healthy, it takes the pressure off for a perfect future. When you go through the muck with someone and can come out on the other side still together, it shores up any cracks that may have appeared in your relationship. In the end, everyone is made stronger by the struggles they endure. That is one life lesson they should teach right along with the ABCs.
In a perfect world, you are finding love in many places. When you find people who love your children, who remember their birthdays and milestones, and who take the time to make them feel special, hang on to them dearly. In a world so jaded and fast-moving, treasure those who look after you and yours when people can rightly be caught up with their own family issues. If you’ve tried and tried over the years to bond with a family member and to genuinely turn your shared genetics into a friendship without success, just let that stuff go. A blood-bond is supposed to be forever, that is what you are taught, but in the end, lackluster love and care from family can stunt your relationship potential with people who truly love you. Embrace those who can love you without judgment and be wary of those whose opinions of your life carry punitive consequences if you fail to act on their advice. Open space in your heart for people willing to include you in their lives, and see a spark in you that you had forgotten existed. Sometimes strangers become family, and family becomes strangers.
We have the potential to spread love daily, not just on February 14th. We all encounter people in our lives who are abrasive and seem unkind. I like to give these people a second, third or even seventh chance. You never know what somebody is dealing with. If you do not take their rude actions as a personal attack, you can look upon them with empathy and possible help even the hardest of humans to soften up. Please consider living every day like Valentine’s Day, where your smiles, kind words, and complimentary word doled out to people you love could brighten their days significantly more than if you drop a box of candy and perfume in their lap on just one day of the year. The brightness you bestow to others Monday through Friday and January through December will have far-reaching effects beyond writing your name on a card on just one silly day of the year.
Photos from Deposit Photos