Valentine’s Day; Shmalentine’s Day.

Ramblings of sentimentality are brought to you by my distress over Valentine’s Day. On one hand, I hate Valentine’s Day – because I feel that it’s important to remember love every single day. On the other hand, a special day for hugs, kisses, and chocolate feels like an important holiday. I miss middle school, where I’d make up bags of individually wrapped candy and assemble Valentine’s cards for each one of my classmates. These days, Valentine’s Day is packaged as a holiday for couples, and I feel silly celebrating the platonic love in my life. There is no day dedicated to the celebration of friendship; and sometimes my self restraint is stronger than my desire for constant silliness. At the same time, greeting cards always make me feel vulnerable and exposed, and I have yet to find ways of showing affection without baring it all. So, I want to write cards, but I won’t.

I’ve always been great at filling up greeting cards. My gift for seeing the best in people (especially those I love) combines with my ability to put words on paper and makes me fantastic at writing cards for every event of the season. A birthday card from me is equivalent to a mug of homemade hot chocolate: warm and genuine. I often see birthdays and other holidays as a great occasion for sentimentality. I don’t vocally express love on a daily basis. Alex gets to hear that I love him every day; but my friends assume that they’re loved until a birthday card comes along and reaffirms their assumption. “I love you” is a very intimate phrase, and I’ve only spoken it to two people outside my family. This isn’t because I don’t love my friends. (I’ve just managed to convince my friends to give regular hugs; I’m not going to push my limits by trying to vocalize my love for them) Greeting cards give me a chance to get creative and expressive. I bask in the opportunity to do so.

Once upon a time, a close friend told me that my cards were tedious and annoying to get through. She said that no one reads my sentimental ramblings, she told me that I shouldn’t waste my time on something that’s going to get thrown out anyway; and I stopped writing love letters to my friends. This past year, I have started to write birthday cards again, only to see them thrown out and get left behind. It’s disappointing to see my heartfelt words get tossed aside, dismissed so easily. I wrote a card for all my friends this past Christmas season, and I only got one card in return. Sentimentality and handwritten notes just aren’t in fashion anymore. So it goes.

There are three lessons to be learned from this story. The first one is that I have never written these cards for my friends, I write them for me. The hugs that I share with my friends aren’t for them, they’re for me. I need to express my love in this way, and there’s no shame in spilling out my words on the back page of a greeting card. There’s beauty in it for me, and I don’t need validation from other people to be able to see and feel that beauty. The second lesson is one that I’ve been learning over and over again. Everyone says and hears “I love you” in a different way. To be a good friend, it’s important that I learn to listen closely. My friends show me love every single day, each in their own way – I just need to pay attention . My final lesson is about vulnerability. In the past year, I’ve opened up in a variety of ways to many different people. In this time, I’ve never regretted being vulnerable. There’s no reason to allow that fear to creep in now.

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6 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day; Shmalentine’s Day.

  1. I think perhaps you should still make the cards since they are for you anyways. A chance to express creativity, to say what you mean and to have no reason to regret not saying I love you to those you care about. On the holidays that I have the time ( since I work in an industry that works holidays), I make a point of homemade gifts and cards. I am a trinket giver on any occasion that suits me and I never regret it. The paper might be tossed out or damaged but the happiness I had creating and the joy of the receiver are something I do get to keep. Live your life in such a way that these joys can be yours and don’t worry about the rest.

    And your friend who went on about not reading them. Perhaps no one ever taught her that the greatest love affair one can have is with ink on a page. With a letter or a story. The feel of paper under a pen or the invitation of a blank space. Her words should not take away that love from you.

    • You’re probably right. If I made the time to make cards, I wouldn’t ever regret it. My hesitation lies in that I do care about what people think. And I’ve been told, time and time again, through words and actions, that my emotional sentimentality should be kept on a tighter leash.

      I also work in an industry that never gets a day off, so I feel your pain. :)

  2. I found the act of making valentine’s cards to be really enjoyable, if not substantially more time consuming than I originally planned. It can be a little of a bummer to know that most people don’t acknowledge the cards. I try to remember that just because someone doesn’t openly express something, doesn’t mean an action didn’t affect them.

    It’s also incredibly touching when someone does call or write to say that a letter, card or poem changed their day for better. You never know when your heartfelt letter is the hug that gets someone through the day.

    • You’re absolutely right. I ought to remember that just because people don’t vocalize their appreciation doesn’t mean that they’re not appreciative.

      I’m glad that you spent the time to make cards. It stands firmly on our shelf, right above the booze, and reminds us to be punny.

  3. I love your cards. I save them and reread them later. Yes, it’s something people stop doing, but because of this it’s so important that you don’t. Please keep this habit.
    And you totally right about different ways of expressing love. Too bad some people can speak only their own language and feel abandoned and lonely just because they cannot “read” other languages.

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