I don’t think there’s any holiday on the American calendar quite so disdained and reviled as Valentine’s Day.
I mean, how many times have you heard of an ‘anti-Christmas party’? “Down with this fat guy who never brings me stuff I want! It’s all commercialized kitsch, nobody knows when the dude was born, and it’s supposed to be a pagan solstice celebration with much drunken nakedness anyway!” (Hmm — come to think of it, maybe I will throw an anti-Christmas party next year.)
And you sure don’t have Ingratitude dinners with quirky relatives, or Forgetfulness Day (“I know I’m supposed to celebrate something…”).
And yet anti-Valentine’s Day parties and anti-V sentiments abound. As well they should: this Hallmark holiday puts everyone in a no-win bind. If you’re already attached, now there’s some kind of imperative to “do something nice” with or for your honey. Many a nascent relationship was blown to smithereens because someone did or didn’t do something for V-day. Imagine if you just met someone last week — NOW what do you do?
And if you’re not attached — congratulations, you’re now officially a chump on The Day of Loooove since you got no one to hang with.
Or are you?
First of all, let’s set something straight. All this nonsense about special days of the year is made-up. You appreciate your companion (and for that matter, your mother, father and secretary) every day of the year and don’t need special reminders for that. Right? Right.
Also, you are not sheeple — you are an independent-minded adult. There is no cosmic line of demarcation that says “thou shalt behave thusly on such day.” Like the pictures on the front of cereal boxes, these are just serving suggestions, not edicts. If you feel the exercise adds to your life and makes you a better person, by all means do it. For example, Muslims do Ramadhan which cleanses the mind and body. By dint of monthlong discipline and contemplation, it may effect real behavioral change in the practitioner’s life. Jews do Yom Kippur, which is another useful day of contemplation. Christians have Lent. So if you think it’ll do you good, do it.
So how do you make Valentine’s Day do you good?
Well, let me ask you this: when was the last time you gave someone a sincere compliment? When was the last time you got one?
I’m guessing it wasn’t within the last 10 minutes. Well, my friend, we’ve got work to do then.
Why not take Valentine’s Day as an excuse to spread good vibes as far and wide as possible? What if you were to blurt out every compliment that came to your mind but have been suppressing all year long? What if you decided to be genuinely appreciative on this one day of the year?
So here’s an idea: send out a short email to 10 of your closest friends mentioning one thing that you sincerely appreciate about that person. Take the time to make it meaningful. The whole exercise will take you less than an hour.
I assure you this gift will last longer than a box of chocolates, two dozen roses or a romantic dinner, because it’ll be etched in their memory forever.
Now an interesting side-effect of this exercise is that YOU are going to feel fantastic. Oh yeah — it’s scientifically proven (’cause we need scientists to tell us to do nice things for each other). And it has a bit of a snowball effect: the more you do it, the better you will feel, and the more you will want to do it.
Needless to say, if you’re one of the aforementioned lonelyheart singletons, this will put you in an excellent state to meet new folks.
So if you are single, think of Valentine’s Day as the ultimate opportunity: any person that you see roamin’ the range unattached is available, baby. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Approach at will! Make your day. This is going to be a ton of fun.
(Alternatively, nobody can disparage you for getting out of Dodge and bypass the whole rigmarole. With a three-day weekend in the offing and epic snow in North America, it would almost be silly not to.)
So feel free to use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to be the open-hearted, loving, outrageously complimentary nucleus of feelgood you’ve always wanted to be. With any luck, the habit just might seep into the rest of the year, too.