It's almost Valentine's Day and that means I'm cycling through my love-hate emotions towards this holiday on an hourly basis. Here are my random thoughts on the subject as of this afternoon. They might change by tomorrow.
A holiday dedicated to expressing love?? That's right up my alley. I'm a "heart" person. Loving people is totally my thing. And a day specifically set aside to tell all my friends and family how much I love them and how much God loves them?? Dream holiday!
Except I know that people can feel sad and lonely on this day and so that stinks. I know what it's like not to have a special Valentine when the world around you seems full of them. It sucks.
When I was single, I had well-meaning friends who would tell me that Valentine's Day is simply a day to celebrate love and it doesn't have to be the romantic kind. (But I didn't see any of them buying me chocolate.)
And when I was married I became that well-meaning friend who gave her single friends cards on Valentine's Day. I was hoping to communicate my love and that they are special and noticed by me, but maybe that felt hollow and they would have preferred that the day passed by with no acknowledgement.
Giving Valentine's cards as a kid was fun. Most of mine were pink and red hearts I cut out of construction paper myself. A couple of the years I remember buying fancy, pre-packaged valentines and attaching sticks of Juicy Fruit gum as a bonus.
By 5th grade I was thinking long and hard about the messages written on the valentines and whether I was ready to commit to the sentiments expressed for that particular person. I would eye the recipients throughout the valentine exchange, gauging their reactions, making the day wrought with tension.
But, that was as complicated as it got. Exchanging valentines was simple - paper, glue, paper sack to collect them. Done.
When did Valentine's boxes become a whole thing? Parents (note: I did not say kids) spend hours and sometimes times days preparing elaborate creations to display on their student's desk for collecting valentines.
And even the actual valentines themselves have gotten more and more creative/intricate/demanding. No paper construction hearts today. No sir. Valentines now have puns and creative slogans and are hand-made. But not "construction paper hearts" kind of "handmade." I'm talking Pinterest-worthy, "Take notice, Hallmark!" awesome!
I did that once. (Did you notice I said once?) One Valentine's Day I took all of our broken crayons and cut them into small pieces, melted them in a heart-shaped muffin tin creating heart-shaped crayons for each kid with a note that said, "Valentine, you COLOR my world." Cute, right? Trust me, the carpal tunnel I got in my hand from cutting crayons for two days was not cute.
Moms who love crafting get to shine like the glitter they're covered with. This is their moment and I salute every single one one of them. The world needs their creativity and their color and their fun.
If this is you, keep doing your thing. My kids absolutely LOVE your valentines and I love seeing what you come up with each year. Don't hide your mad skills fearing the wrath of non-crafty moms. I, for one, celebrate your creativity and encourage you to let it shine!
There's a lot of pressure out there to be a crafty mom, even if you aren't. So, a lot of $ and time is spent to pull off some type of clever creation......which will be ripped in half and devoured within hours. It begins to feel like a competition and an expectation we don't want, aren't equipped for, or don't have time to attain. Hate it.
So, non-crafty moms, feel free to adopt Amy Poehler's attitude toward crafting: "Good for you. Not for me." Go to the store and buy the pre-packaged valentines. I recommend the candy valentines which only require your child to write their name on the package. In and out in 20 minutes.
Valentine's Day date night. This should be a wonderful time to connect with my husband, looking deep into his eyes and remembering all the wonderful things I love about him.
Reality: We'll spend Valentine's weekend running kids between basketball games and play rehearsals. We MIGHT order one of those heart-shaped pizzas and enjoy it sitting on the couch together after it's all said and done. Could we go out for a candlelit dinner somewhere? Sure, but this plan sounds way easier, warmer, and more acceptable for wearing my yoga pants.
My 25 year-old, single self wants to punch my 41 year-old, married self in the face. Come on, woman, pull it together! We're single and waiting for Mr. Right to come along, desperately wishing for a Valentine to share the day with and you're telling me you don't even care. You're saying it's just like any other day?!? I disown you.
Small gifts of love. Chocolate, slippers, tickets to a show. These would all be nice. But, the best gift would be several no-laundry, no-dishes, no-cleaning days. The valentine token of love doesn't have to be elaborate. Some years we've been broke as a joke and gave nothing to each other. An extra "I love you" and a note is right up my alley.
Twenty five year-old Christine here again: PUNCH!
So basically, there are a lot of reasons to love and hate Valentine's Day. Some make sense and are completely rational and others are, well.....others are a page straight out of my brain.
Either way, please know that I love you. And I mean that in the most sincere, celebratory, "I noticed you unless you don't want me to notice you," non-pressure-y, super romantic (wink, Michael), completely platonic (insert everyone else), Jesus sort of way.