Valentine’s Day is one of the most hated days of the year — but is there hope for the mushy celebration? Isn’t the power of love strong enough to bring joy to the despised day?
I love Valentine’s Day. Something about seeing people express their love to each other, and reminding their loved ones that they appreciate their presence, warms my entire being. Although some argue that we should be expressing love and gratitude every day, let’s be real — we can all be a little forgetful.
There is something so powerful about simultaneous expressions of love by a great number of people. Seeing people in love reminds me that there is hope for our world, which feels so desolate at times.
I am always ecstatic to see people around me blush when they’re told how incredible they are. Hearing folks express their gratitude to those around them gives me confirmation that this world isn’t always harsh and thankless.
I do sympathize, however, with arguments about the commercialization of the day of love. It frustrates me that many people believe that affection and gratitude can only be expressed by the numbers on the till at Carlton Cards, or any Valentine’s Day store of your choice. Love doesn’t have a price tag, and thanking someone shouldn’t require a gift.
So, here are a few of the things I do to avoid the typical Valentine’s Day “buy your partner a gift and call it good” attitude, while still acknowledging the love and gratitude that I believe are central to the day. Some of these items require purchases, but others just require expressing the love in your heart.
1. Make your own cards: Homemade cards express your gratitude and love for those around you at virtually no cost. Depending on your style, all you really need is paper, markers, paint or — if you’re really into it — maybe some glitter glue. A quick Google search will provide you with more ideas than you need to make cards for your loved ones. And as an added bonus, this makes for an excellent study break.
2. Cook a celebratory Valentine’s Day meal: Depending on how you’re feeling, you could do this with your partner or with friends. I prefer brunch-time potluck meals with a group of friends, as they can help you keep costs low. If this activity doesn’t have enough love in it for you, each person at your meal can say something that they love about the person on their right.
3. Call a caregiver: On Valentine’s Day, I always make a point of calling someone who has acted as a caregiver for me. I typically call my mom or dad, but in the past, I have also called former teachers to thank them for their love and support.
4. Dress in red or pink: Okay, I know that this one is a little silly, but I love dressing in these rich, warm colours — especially for Valentine’s Day. Put on some crushed velvet or a snazzy red scarf. Bright colours and clothing keep me feeling warm, in both the physical and emotional senses.
5. Remind the people around you that they rock: The barista who just handed you your coffee deserves to know that they are doing a great job. Your professor deserves to know that the innovative technique they are trying out is really facilitating your learning. The people we engage with every day are working hard, and giving them a little bit of the love in your heart could make their day.
Valentine’s Day is just a calendar reminder to smile a little brighter, speak a little gentler and listen a little harder to those around you. Who knows how much joy sharing a little love could bring?
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk