Valentine’s Day is not a holiday whose existence I normally acknowledge. The timing of my romantic relationships in the past has been just about as nice to me as the timing of my corrective dental work. Valentine’s Day sophomore year actually found me angrily snapping at my roommate after I got home from a particularly dramatic evening, for the sole reason that she was able to go to bed happy and I was not. Last year found me at a women’s basketball game and a campus bar. No shame.
For some reason, this year is different. I haven’t been dreading the day for the past few weeks. I’ve actually been looking forward to it. And no, not because I’ve got a romantic date for Thursday – because I don’t. I’m okay with it. I am looking forward to a night with some of my similarly single friends. I won’t hate Valentine’s Day this year. Last week, I actually made a plate of pink, Valentine’s-themed cookies for my roommates. What can I say, “love is in the air”? No. Don’t ever let me say that again.
I think what I am slowly coming to realize in my old age is that, while good ol’ Hallmark has made Valentine’s Day a specific date to ostracize single people and let couples flaunt their togetherness in our faces, that’s not what it’s actually about, Charlie Brown. It should be about all kinds of love. Yes, Saint Valentine performed clandestine Christian weddings, and that’s why his feast day makes some people want to hide under a rock. But why not make it a celebration of all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind?
There are many kinds of love. Friendship, family, romance, chocolate … I wish there was room in our culture for us to celebrate all of those, not just one of them. Romantic love is important, but it’s not the only kind of love. And we have somehow come to think that it is the kind of love that is necessary to our happiness as humans, which is simply not true. Love, in its simplest, purest form, is the only kind of love we need to stay happy. We crave human affection, and we can get it from many different sources.
My parents and I end every phone conversation with “Love you!” My friends and I sign text conversations with emoticon hearts. My roommates and I leave baked goods on the counter with notes that say “Help yourself!” on them (possibly the best kind of love ever). In fact, I think little kinds of love like that, on a daily basis, mean much more than a big, fancy, expensive dinner on a day when it’s mandated by social norms. I’d rather be surprised by love than expect it.
This year, I’m not hating on Valentine’s Day. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m excited about it; I don’t think I’ve been excited for it since grade school, when I got to decorate a shoebox with doilies and it was mandatory for everyone to bring a Valentine for everyone else, so I was guaranteed at least 29 tiny pieces of candy attached to pictures of Buzz Lightyear or Spiderman.
I’ll let the couples go out on their expected dates; there’s nothing wrong with following traditions, really (if you read my column last semester, you know how much I love Christmastime). I will ask that you leave me out of conversations about them afterward, though, or the gift he got you or the super sweet thing you did for him or the amazing time she told you she had.
Romantic love, or any love for that matter, isn’t meant to be a show for the public, it’s something extremely special between people, and, in my experience and opinion, there is nothing more special than having a memory that only the two of you share. Valentine’s Day should be less of a public spectacle and more of a quiet celebration of all different kinds of love.
Caroline Campbell is a senior in the College of Communication with a major in journalism and a minor in history. Email her firstname.lastname@example.org.