Happy Valentine’s Day, friend! How do you celebrate? Do you celebrate? This is an interesting holiday. Complicated for some. Ignored by others. Celebrated in various ways by many. I didn’t date much growing up, and didn’t marry until I was thirty-seven. So I spent many years, at least from my perspective, feeling I was on the outside looking in on Valentine’s Day, feeling a bit left out. Lonely for a day. Turns out, my husband and I celebrate Valentine’s Day in a no stress kind of way. I discovered, with no disappointment, that it’s not a big deal in our house. Simple and so our style. What’s your Valentine style?
At Valentine’s Day, for me, it is all about love in our lives, not just one romantic relationship. I celebrate my friendships, family, co-workers past and present, students, and more. In my heart, I feel such gratitude for loving people in my life through the years. That’s what I truly celebrate at Valentine’s Day. Not romantic love, but love shared in knowing one another well and caring for each other.
In 1990, I became a school teacher. That made Valentine’s Day fun. Seeing the decorated bags and boxes. Watching the kids come in with fists full of tiny envelopes, some with names on them, some not, when remembering everyone became daunting. We’d take time to pass out the greetings, eat sweet treats (it was a simpler time – less food allergies and sugar limits), and energetic moms filling the room with memory making decor and party fun for a group of almost ten-year old children.
I would always hold my breath, hoping every child would get cards. Over time, I liked to observe cultural shifts communicated in the card themes. Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh, Smurfs, Garfield, Barbie, and many various super heroes. The homemade valentines were always beautiful. I’d open and read each card with delight and appreciation.
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s day without mentioning the chocolate. As a teacher, I got gifts of chocolate from students. Let me tell you a secret. I did not care for chocolate. I would give it away. I became quite popular in the teacher’s lounge offering my boxes of chocolates to others who appreciated it, wishing I could trade for a donut. [Side note: I did try dark chocolate in 2005, and discovered I do like dark chocolate. Still cannot tolerate milk chocolate to this day, with the exception of peanut M&Ms, which now come in dark chocolate, thankfully.]
In 1992, I finally explored the romantic side of Valentine’s Day. At the time, I was dating the love of my life and now husband. We went out to dinner that first Valentine’s Day, thinking that’s what you do. We learned that restaurants are crowded on Valentine’s Day evening. They often have a special menu, meaning higher priced meals. That was a let down. We do occasionally go to dinner for Valentine’s Day, but we do it on another calendar day.
This year, we ate garlic everything this past Saturday night at The Stinking Rose – A Garlic Restaurant, Beverly Hills. Nothing says I love you like garlic breath. Who’s with me on that? We hadn’t been there for a long time and decided to go this past weekend. And since it was February and a nicer outing than normal, we decided to use Valentine’s Day as our excuse to go, not our reason to indulge.
So many ways to celebrate! We are not into gift giving to each other. Are you? We prefer sharing an activity together, like a train ride or visit to the beach. We do enjoy exchanging cards, always one sweet and one funny. We also enjoy cooking a great meal together at home, if our schedules permit. Including dessert, which is a rare treat. We don’t do flowers. Too predictable and pricey for our taste at Valentine’s Day. We stay rather practical. I don’t care about jewelry, so those seasonal diamond commercials are wasted on us.
I do enjoy decorating a bit for the holidays throughout the year, and this is no exception. Many of you do, too. It is fun to see your photos on Facebook and Instagram. I like to keep it simple. We have white lights strung on our kitchen window all year round. That provides a type of clothesline for some fun Valentine cards I’ve collected over the years from Paper Source. They have some great ones!
I also use a February mug for my coffee. Here is my Waechtersbach mug, popular in the 1980’s. I get it out each February. I know some of you have Valentine traditions, decorations, and mugs, too. Make sure to share on social media.
In recent years, “Galentine’s” parties have become popular. That’s a great idea! This HGTV post explains all about it. Sounds so fun!
This Valentine’s Day, I hope none of you feels left out, alone, or sad. Don’t let this be a grass is greener day for you, looking at what you don’t have instead of what you do. Valentine’s Day isn’t the big deal. Find a loved one – family or friend – and tell them what they mean to you. See the beauty around you, if you live in a climate where flowers are blooming or the beauty of winter.
Splurge on simple things, like a great cup of hot cocoa, a cookie, a cupcake, and/or good coffee.
Buy yourself flowers. Remember a new widow or widower with heart shaped sugar cookies. Make a quick call to a far-away friend. Be a loving person and enjoy the good people around you. Find the simple joy in life and use Valentine’s Day as your excuse.
I hope everyone can think of at least one person in their life that brings them love, romantic or simply a caring relationship. Celebrate all that the person has added to your life. For all of you that enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day, that’s awesome, too! Be you! Do what’s meaningful to you and feel wonderful about all the elements. Do Valentine’s Day your way and don’t compare yourself to others. Let me know your Valentine’s traditions or special things in the comments below. Thanks!
Stay charming the Valentine’s Day, my friend!