Lessons from a Valentine's Day...

lessons for clara

Dearest Clara,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I know it seems a little corny to be wishing you a happy valentine’s day, but this is one of my favorite holidays. While some people see it as sappy and romantic, or commercial and forced, and granted, it can feel that way sometimes, I prefer to see it as a celebration of love among family and friends.  It’s an opportunity to recognize people who are important to us openly, and also an opportunity to recognize people sometimes a bit more secretly.  After all, who isn’t flattered by secret admirers?

My fondest Valentine’s memory though was a gift from my mother.  I was 12, and she woke me up early before her call shift at the hospital to give my gift: 3 pink Bic razors with a small can of shaving cream, all wrapped up in red tissue and in a small gift bag with hearts on it.  It couldn’t have cost more than a few dollars and I remember it like it was yesterday.  I had been begging to shave my legs, like all the other girls at school, for months, and I thought she would never say yes.  Turns out, my mom was more progressive (or perhaps more understanding of the need of junior high vanity) than I thought. . . It meant the world to me, and every year, I think of how excited I felt that she really took to heart what I had been wanting.

Here is the way I try to celebrate an extra touch of love on this day:

  • Give valentines to everyone: When you’re young, hopefully in school they’ll get you in the habit of including everyone in Valentines.  Want to know why? Because it’s such a nice feeling when you’re included; and it’s such a sad feeling when you’re not.  Try to make room for as many people as you can in your Valentine’s day heart.
  • Wear at least a little bit of red: Nothing over the top, but having a little touch of red, even if it’s somewhere not everyone can see, will put you in the holiday spirit and remind you to be extra loving towards those around you.
  • Be weary of set Valentine’s menus at restaurants: In my experience, these never turn out for the best, neither in food, nor in your enjoyment of the evening.  If you go out, find a restaurant that treats this as a normal day, or prepare a celebration with a group in a non-traditional spot.
  • Leave a surprise for someone you admire: Valentines are about relationships, but not everything has to be defined as a couple.  You can feel admiration for someone and not necessarily feel it in a romantic way—just don’t confuse the two for them.
  • Be extra mindful of anyone you care about in “that way”: No matter how much people say they might not like or not care or not endorse Valentine’s day, I think everyone ends up holding out a little hope for it in the end.  So if you are with someone, make the effort to do something a bit more meaningful.  It doesn’t have to be serious, and it doesn’t have to be heart shaped boxes full of chocolates (unless they like it)—but do something that shows that you’re thinking about them and appreciate them in your life.

Wishing all my love to my darling Valentine,