You know how certain things need defending? Like ice cubes in a glass of milk, Shania Twain, and socks with sandals? For the record, I do and will uphold all of the above. It’s due time to stand in defense of lowly, overlooked Valentine’s Day. It was in middle school that I started wearing pink pants and decorating homemade valentines for friends to mark the occasion, but really it was childhood that fortified my deep love of the day. My mom was working by the time I can remember the holiday, leaving well before any of us were awake. Being a household of seven, a lot of things get lost in translation, such as getting picked up from school (only once or twice did this happen, but I did have to lift my feet so the janitor could vacuum around me, and you don’t forget a thing like that), having lunches packed (we did the packing; I’m sorry, dad, for the time I packed you nothing but a piece of cake), etc.
For the things that occasionally got overlooked (and understandably, I might add), it seems to me that my mom never let Valentine’s Day go uncelebrated. One year when I went downstairs, long after she had gone to work, there they were: boxes of sugary, name brand cereal. One for each sibling, with a note featuring her iconic lipstick kiss next to a heart with the word MAMA. Another year there was a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a treasure to be savored and hidden from all of my fiendish siblings. And every year of elementary school, when kids could still design and bring in their own valentine boxes, she would help me craft something magnificent. No straightforward boxes for the Jacksons. In first grade she made me a butterfly out of a barrel shaped plastic pretzel tub and cardboard wings. Fourth grade? A life-sized vacuum. I pushed it the whole way to my grandma’s house on the walk home from school, and with pride. In fifth grade we made a large house, complete with a front door and a bedroom window featuring the school photo of your’s truly. I come by my love of Valentine’s Day naturally.
And then there’s the pink and red color story. Warm, loving, inviting colors to punctuate a wet, drizzly, cold month. Right in the middle of February we are offered a chance to feel embraced, if by the colors alone. Mark and I love to host a Valentine’s supper for friends or family, because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it is that a day of love needn’t be relegated to romantic love. Love is for everyone, and so is February 14th. Unclear on what to do this year, and suspecting that it might be a normal hamburger and rice sort of evening (we have a one year old, after all), I have taken to celebrating in little ways. Red and pink clothes, handwritten notes and homemade valentines, a cup of rosy black tea each afternoon, a little extra baking, you get it.
Why not write a note to your love? Or bake some cookies with your kids? Or go for a walk and tell the ground you love it, tell the sky you love it, tell your lungs and legs you love them? For the diehards out there who cannot and will not give it a chance, I surely have not convinced you. But if perhaps you love a reason to make an otherwise ordinary day a little extra, I think Valentine’s is for you.