February 2, 2017

How to Celebrate this Villainous Holiday—for Singles.

Valentine’s Day seems to have a pretty bad reputation.

What a bunch of pessimists: A “Hallmark Holiday.” “National Single Awareness Day.”

I don’t understand why people have decided to vilify this holiday. What’s so bad about hearts, candy, or flowers?

The problem is that most people have it in their mind that Valentine’s Day is about your one and only valentine, your significant other, but to me, this holiday has little to do with being in a relationship.

Every year, come the end of January, my room becomes enveloped in red and pink heart hysteria. I’m cutting construction paper and covered in glitter and looking for the tape that’s buried under all the candy. It’s not February yet, but my valentine madness takes weeks of preparation.

I started the Valentine’s Day mayhem in ninth grade. To my horror, I have just discovered that I used to type my valentines and now have a record of the embarrassing notes I used to give my friends. For some people, this will be the 11th year that they’ve received a heart-covered note from me on this holiday.

For 11 years, I’ve been obsessed with love.

All throughout high school, when I was making valentines left and right, I had never been in love or had a boyfriend, but it didn’t matter because I had so many wonderful people in my life deserving of chocolate and love notes.

Though I understand that I’m one of the few who feel this way—that Valentine’s Day is about friendship and gratitude—it seems silly that more people don’t take this approach.

Growing up, we made valentines every year for our classmates. How did we go so quickly from spreading love to all our friends, opening dozens of valentines and devouring candy, to holing up in our apartments with Netflix and hating the holiday?

I adore Valentine’s Day because it’s a time to let my inner child fight its way to the surface. I used to make everyone break-and-bake cookies, but now, since I don’t live near most of my friends, I rely on stamps more than cookie dough. I cut unsymmetrical hearts, buy packs of stickers and bust out the magic markers and get to work. I love every moment of it, even more than I did in elementary school.

I’m a true believer in the Beatles’ line:

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Call this a selfish approach—that I only give love to receive love—but it makes sense to me. The more love you put out into the world, the more likely it is to find its way back to you. A person who feels loved is more likely to spread love. And I’m lucky enough to have a bursting heart, so I want everyone to know that they make me happy. (And I’m not going to lie, I love all the texts and phone calls I get from my friends when they open their valentines.)

But it’s more than that.

I think I make such a big deal about Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and Christmas because I’ve been the person who cried alone outside the bar on her birthday and I’ve been the girl who wrapped herself in a blanket of loneliness on Christmas Eve. I hate to think of anyone being upset, especially on a day when everyone else is acting happy and we’re wondering what’s wrong with us.

If I can prevent that ache of loneliness in someone else, even just for a second, if I can make a friend smile when he or she checks the mail, I’m glad that I could make them see how lovable they are. It’s no community service, but it’s friendly and heartfelt.

So I urge us all to spread our love. I know I take it to the extreme with my ridiculous plastic heart shoes and the dozens of valentines that will end up in the recycling bin, but I honestly believe that spreading my love—via snail mail, emojis, voicemails, and baked goods—has made me a happier person in return.

It’s easy to wallow, to tell ourselves this day is about romance and we haven’t had a kiss since the ball dropped in Times Square. But it should also be easy to recognize the love in our life, not just the love of our life, and all the people who make our life better.

Be thankful.


Author: Addie Gottwald

Image: Author’s Own; Lulu Hoeller/Flickr

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Addie Gottwald