I am not a big fan of Valentine's Day. And by not a big fan, I mean I hate it.
Firstly, it epitomizes the rampant, unapologetic commercialization of everything. It's become a day perpetuated and masterminded by (literally) heartless corporations to condition us into believing that the giving and receiving of love needs to be facilitated through material consumption…etc. etc. etc.
Secondly, it's stressful for everyone:
If you're in a long-term relationship, there's this sudden societal expectation that you'll have this one night of heightened, movie-worthy romance involving a fancy-schmancy dinner, wearing something slightly-to-very uncomfortable, inordinately expensive flowers, and maybe some overly-large stuffed animal holding a plush heart that nobody really wants… when perhaps what you’d rather be doing is snuggling down on the couch in pajamas, ordering takeout, and both falling asleep early while watching SVU. But maybe that’s just me.
It's even worse if you're in the early, ambiguous, "what are we" part of a relationship: What does it mean if they don't propose Valentine's Day plans? Is it presumptuous to make a dinner reservation for two? Should you get them a present? What if they give you a rare first-edition anthology of love poems, and all you got them was a sweater that you found on sale at Marshalls? What if you secretly consulted their friends to get front-row tickets to their favorite band, and they got you nothing? It's a total mind-fuck.
If you're single, it seems like everyone is in a relationship come February: they're nuzzling faces along your running route, sneaking kisses in the canned goods aisle, sharing headphones on the bus. And even if you really don't mind being single, it’s never nice to feel like you’re the only third wheel left on earth. One of the only upsides to the day is seeing kids and old people dressed up in suits and stockings on the way to their dinner dates. Basically, if you're under the age of 16 and over the age of 70, I think your love is adorable. Everyone else needs to keep that shit to themselves.
That said, I am a big fan of making the most of a shitty situation. The saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So if we can't escape Valentine's Day in all its pink and heart-shaped glory, we might as well turn it into something we can get behind. I propose we re-purpose it into a day to celebrate all the people you love – friends, family, partners. And it doesn't really have to be love with a capital “L” - it can be a time to tell someone that they give you feelings, you're glad you met them, they're special to you and have changed you in some way, and your life is better for having them in it. And while we shouldn't just do this on the one day that the corporate gods have dictated, I honestly could use the annual reminder because I definitely don't do it enough.
So. Instead of showing someone how much they mean to you by buying them something bigger and better, give them a valentine instead. Straight up tell them how you feel. Celebrate them. Say thanks. Buy a card, make one yourself, or just fold a scrap piece of paper in half and get writing. After all, it's what you say inside that really counts.