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Have you been flooded with Valentine’s Day ads, junk emails, “Valentine’s Day gifts for you” notices, etc.? I mean really – laundry detergent Valentine’s Day special? WTF???

As much as I am a romantic at heart, this day confounds me. Why do people get so excited about a greeting-card-mandated day of romance? When we are in love with someone, do we need to be told to celebrate that and each other? Do we really need to be reminded to throw a little romance into our days? Don’t misunderstand me…in my 20’s I was right in there, wanting flowers and dinner and gifts. Now, not so much. Even if I wasn’t currently single (“he” is very elusive….where the hell is he hiding anyway?), it wouldn’t be my thing.

Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been kind. And I’m fairly certain it’s still not always kind to everyone.

Years ago I was working at a really fun, small, creative office. We had staff events regularly – any excuse was a good one. Then came the Valentine’s Day event, where we were going to go back to grade school and put anonymous Valentine’s cards in a make-shift post box. We’d meet for snacks and the cards would be handed out. When I first heard of this my whole being went into total panic mode – my body started to quake, and I felt sick to my stomach. And I’m pretty sure something along the lines of “Ugh, I HATE this idea!” came out of my mouth.

Why such a violent reaction? Grade 6. Grade 6 Valentine’s Day. I went to school that day happily armed with cards for the class. And I received…ZERO…in return. That’s right, a big fat zero in return. I remember thinking “Even LE got cards! Even he didn’t give me one!” (he was a little different, and the one everyone loved to make fun of – lord knows what was happening in his home life, but in Grade 6 that’s not something you think about. Most of the time I just felt sorry for him.) A few of my classmates came to see me with cries of “I’m sorry, I just forgot about yours.” Right…like THAT made me feel better. Me being me, I shoved the feelings aside and got on with things. I didn’t even really think about it again, as I got busy with high school, university, and everything else after that.

Then came Valentine’s Day at work. I was suddenly thrown back into the Grade 6 memory – and mentality. Yuck. I figured it hit this hard for a reason. The memories and feelings had broken through the surface to be processed and let go. So I worked on that.

Rest assured, I am not sharing this story to get sympathy of any kind. I am all good. And I am sure many have similar experiences. Likely there was a lesson I needed to learn and this was the way I was going to do so. One thing is for sure, I came out of that with a lot more empathy and care for those on the fringes, those not in the “it” crowd. Who knows, maybe I would have been a snooty little pain in the ass if I hadn’t experienced this. I like to think not, but you never know.

I did participate in the work event, and I even had fun. Come to think of it, this office, with these people, was one of the very best places to work. I still look back on those days fondly.

All that said, I don’t see why spending three times as much for flowers, chocolates and dinner on a date determined by someone else, has such an allure. Give me flowers any other day of the year, just because. I’ll appreciate those more and you won’t drain your wallet. As for chocolate, you can buy me that every day! Just make it dark chocolate – pure and simple.

When I was living in Vancouver, some friends decided that instead of a romantic dinner alone, they wanted a “Valentine’s Day for friends – for everyone we love” evening. They wanted to break the usual Valentine’s Day mold. What a fabulous idea. And maybe that’s another reason I’m not big on this day – I don’t generally like being told what to do and feel and when. I’ve always resisted being labeled or categorized or told I can or can’t do something. Hmmmm…may need to ponder that some more. There’s always more to learn.

But enough of my ranting over Valentine’s Day. As it approaches and you are inundated with ads and junk emails about it…take a moment and think about:

  • all those you love, and how lucky you are to have them
  • those who love you, and how lucky you are to have them (and how lucky they are to have you…seriously!)
  • those you have loved and who for whatever reason are no longer in your life – send them gratitude and love

Spread a little love….Valentine’s Day and every day.

Photo by Gabby K on