Are you feeling anxious about a Valentine’s Day without a sweetheart? Just a reminder: Valentine’s Day ain’t all that!
Before shoppers have a chance to recuperate from Christmas consumerism, decorating, and celebrating, the retail machine starts preparing us for the next holiday: Valentine’s Day. While not celebrated as a full season, like winter holidays, it is a glimmer of festivity amid the cold and gloom of winter every February 14th.
The sentiment behind the holiday is as sweet as the tons of candy sold to lovers to mark the occasion, though not as artificial and materialistic. On St. Valentine’s Day, we are supposed to declare our affection for the ones we love, primarily our romantic partner, which is terribly touching, so long as “I love you” and thoughtfulness are shared the rest of the year!
Many of us find ourselves feeling sidelined, down, and even jealous during this celebration of love. Those of us who are divorced or divorcing may experience a resurgence of emotions as we watch friends and co-workers receive bouquets of flowers delivered to the office or acquaintances gushing about candlelit dinners, jewelry, and chocolates from someone special.
When we don’t have someone going out of their way to tell us they love us, it’s hard not to feel depressed and in the mood to punch Cupid right in the kisser!
Enduring a Valentine’s Day with a partner who makes us feel invisible and unwanted can make us feel just as sour about a day known to be so sweet! I remember my ex telling me that I would never receive flowers from him because I saw enough of them during the day (I used to be a floral designer many years ago). Not that I ever received a card or any other traditional trappings of the holiday. Thanks, man!
I could almost buy in to the philosophy that a date on the calendar need not dictate how and when a partner should express their love, so long as they do so! Not that any of us should let the card and candy manufacturers, or even the creators of the occasion tell us how to love. My point is, if you need a specified date to be reminded to show love, affection, and appreciation for your partner, but take a vacation from doing so the rest of the year, you’re doing it wrong!
Enough about my former marriage, which could serve as a “don’t” example for Valentine’s Day and every other day…what about us in the here and now suffering from V-Day doldrums? How do we face a holiday meant for love without a lover of our own and not feel exceptionally grouchy about the whole thing?
5 Reminders that Valentine’s Day ain’t all that:
1. Obligatory displays of affection aka ODA. I’m not speaking of PDA, you know public displays of affection, common to newly-minted couples who can’t keep their hands off of one another. Nope, this one goes out to all the people who begrudgingly visit the shops on February 14th to avoid a fight or cold shoulder at home if they should forget to purchase a present.
Trust me, a former florist of 14 years, there is plenty of ODA going on in honor of Valentine’s Day. Husbands, boyfriends, and secret lovers line up in droves to do their V-day duty and literally act as though they’re waiting a turn for a dental exam. I wish I could say it was all heartfelt and touching, but most men I encountered were terrified to let the woman they love down. That’s not to say there’s not genuine adoration being felt, it’s just that no one wants to feel like they have a gun to their head.
2. None of it lasts. Unless you’re the lucky chick getting diamonds for Valentine’s Day, all those flowers wilt and die and the candy will be consumed. Most Valentine gifts border on the ultra-cheesy, disposable, or forgettable. So, if you don’t get a teddy bear holding a fake rose and a “Be Mine” heart that your honey picked up in haste at a convenience store, are you really missing out?
3. The greatest love of all. Whitney Houston sang it. Not the part about the children being our future. No, the part where she belted out “because the greatest love of all is happening to me. I found the greatest love of all inside of me…” It feels great when someone outside of ourselves recognizes our greatness and professes their love; but, trust that none of that means anything if love, respect, and dignity for self, haven’t been achieved!
So, you go a Valentine’s Day (or a couple, or a few) without dinner at the Sizzler and a heart-shaped box of chocolates? That is absolutely no sign of a decrease in value or lovability! If we allow ourselves to be suckered into the notion that we’re only special, beautiful, smart, sexy, loved, or any other redeeming quality just because someone else says so, then perhaps what we should wish for is a Valentine’s Day gift certificate for counseling!
The period of time during and following a divorce is the ideal time to re-discover our own love for ourselves. The peace of solitude, or sitting out Cupid Day, can set an ideal stage to get to know ourselves again and form an appreciation for all the awesomeness we possess. Sing, it Whitney!
4. Spread your own love. I’m all for finding little reasons throughout the year and life in general to celebrate. To me, this is part of what makes life worth living. I always buy my kids a little box of chocolates and a card on Valentine’s Day because they are my eternal loves. I am not anti-Valentine’s Day; instead, I am all for setting the priorities of the holiday straight. Love comes in many forms, not just the romantic variety.
If a lover is absent from the equation this holiday, why not grow and spread some love to the people in our lives who bring us joy? Maybe we don’t tell them enough how much we care for and appreciate them? Maybe we can bring joy to someone else who is feeling left out or gloomy in the middle of everyone else’s happiness? Consider buying a cute pack of cards to surprise co-workers, neighbors, relatives, and other sweeties in our life!
5. Anyone can buy a gift. When all is said and done, if the fact that no posies are delivered to the door or sweet treats are gifted by an admirer brings a frown, buy your own damn gift! There’s no Valentine Police prohibiting the purchase of presents for ourselves! We might as well use a heart on the calendar as an excuse to treat ourselves to something we really want!
Sumptuous bottle of perfume? Check.
Favorite guilty pleasure snack? Check.
Cuddly drool-worthy sweater at that cute boutique? Check.
Valentine to give the gift to us? No need!
So, as V-Day approaches, I recommend losing the anxiety and pouts over the lack of a hero to remind us we’re loved. Everything we need is contained within ourselves, and no glittery card or predictable bouquet of blossoms is necessary to prove it! Valentine’s Day need not be dreaded, avoided, or sulked through. It’s just a single day on the calendar and will disappear within 24 hours. Don’t miss an opportunity to stop in front of a mirror sometime on February 14th to blow a kiss to that lovely lady in the reflection!