Most dreaded … most anticipated … or just another day to sell cards. Whatever view you take, Valentine’s Day is probably one of the most conflicted days of the calendar year. While some look forward to and wait for the day when they will be able to take part in it with a sweet someone, others shudder at every reminder of what they call “single’s awareness day.” It seems like a holiday only for the initiated. Too many people feel left out or dissatisfied with their experience of it. But that is not the way it has to be. Valentine’s Day could be about more than receiving wished for personal attention.
My parents’ wedding anniversary is on Valentine’s Day. How much more “initiated” into the holiday can you be? But what I noticed most about the holiday growing up were the ways in which we children were made to feel special. One year, my mom invited my friends over for an elegant ladylike tea, complete with mini boxes of chocolates and teapot shaped candles at each place. Another year, my dad singled me out for a huge foldout teddy bear card and a bouquet of white roses. Later, my brothers followed suit by giving flowers and chocolates to Mom and sisters. With all of that, I never felt left out of Valentine’s Day.
It was not until I moved out of the house and went to college that I became aware of the general moodiness felt by singles on Valentine’s Day. Partly, I was tempted to join in the blues, even after gaining a boyfriend, when I still had to spend Valentine’s Day apart from him. But knowing how it felt to have the day made special even when you could be inclined to feel like you were missing out, I realized I was qualified to brighten the day for other people.
On the first Valentine’s Day I spent apart from my boyfriend, I hosted a Valentine’s party for my single girlfriends. We had chocolates, candy, games, and all the fun we could wish for. I’m happy to say, they took up the tradition, and even after many of us now have the option to spend the day with a sweetheart, they still choose to celebrate with a yearly “Gal-entines” party.
The idea is simple enough: making your children, your friends, your parents, or someone who thinks they are left out feel special. Valentine’s Day is not only about romance. It is equally an opportunity for Christian love and showing kindness to others.
Teach kids how to make others feel valued on Valentine’s Day by giving the example to them from a young age. Give them a special and personal treat for Valentine’s Day, aside from the normal parties and school events with other kids.
Think of those who feel an absence of a loved one on Valentine’s Day – missing a person they wish they could or once did spend it with. Consider how to show widows, divorcees, military spouses, and others that they are not uncared for or forgotten.
Make an effort to include singles by reaching out to them on Valentine’s Day. Host an event for singles at home or church groups. Also, take time to mentor and befriend a single person of the same gender long-term. Investments of time and relationship mean the world to a single and lend emotional stability and perspective.
This Valentine’s Day, now that I am married, is the first one I will spend in person with my husband, after four years of dating and celebrating Valentine’s Day from a distance. I am beyond delighted that we finally get to celebrate the day together. But all the ways I’ve found to show regard for others in those years was not a waste but remains a special part of the holiday. Valentine’s Day for those who cannot celebrate in the way they want does not have to be about missing out; it can be about taking opportunity.