Valentine’s Day is coming up, and we’re here to help you enjoy this day of love in any way that is meaningful and genuine – honoring whichever cherished connections you feel called to celebrate. (Romance is not required, and no shame whatsoever if your mom is still your Valentine!)
February 14th is Valentine’s Day. It’s supposed to be the “day of love”!
It’s a nice idea but not everyone is convinced – making it a polarizing holiday, to say the least. At one end of the spectrum, you’ll find folks who genuinely enjoy it. For them, it’s sweet and favorable to have a ready-made excuse to shower their beloveds with affection. They might even get excited about the greeting cards, big teddy bears, and other gifts that we so often associate with the day.
On the other end of the spectrum are the folks who are repulsed by Valentine’s Day. For them, it’s a completely overrated “Hallmark Holiday” – manufactured under the guise of love and gratitude and grossly commercialized.
While I personally don’t think that expressions of love, affection, and gratitude should be relegated to just one seemingly arbitrary day in February, I still see the appeal of having a holiday dedicated specifically to celebrating love. (Okay, I know it’s not entirely arbitrary, based on what is suggested about the origins of the holiday, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.)
I just think we can do better with Valentine’s Day. It seems reasonable to suggest that, with intention, creativity, and probably some delegation in the name of love, there is real potential for every person to find meaning and joy in this holiday.
But to do that, we have to ditch the prescribed traditions, especially if they aren’t serving us.
Gifts re-defined; love in all forms.
Part of the frustration with Valentine’s Day is the depersonalized, commodified feel of it and the narrow representation of love. When you think of Valentine’s Day, what comes to mind? Is it images of red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, shiny balloons, and mass-produced greeting cards shared between romantically-involved couples?
Unfortunately, that’s what I reflexively think of, thanks in large part to the heavy-handed displays in most grocery stores and other marketing efforts. I suspect I’m not alone.
But February 14th doesn’t have to include kitschy heart-festooned paraphernalia, and by no means is having a lover or romantic partner required. All of our relationships are important and benefit from ongoing attention. So I submit that, on Valentine’s Day, nothing should stop us from celebrating any of our precious relationships, in any way that seems appropriate and meaningful.
Perhaps that seems even more daunting and challenging, given how busy we all tend to feel. But that’s where the creativity and intentionality come in.
The seemingly simple acts of calling your best friend, sending a sweet note to your mom, making dinner for your polycule, or going hiking with your buddies are all effective ways to nurture those relationships. Gooey, elaborate gestures, on the other hand, do not have to be part of your tradition, unless it suits all parties involved.
Enter Love Languages.
Speaking their Love Language
The theory and practical application of Love Languages have been around since 1992 and have been used to help people identify the ways in which they show and receive love. It’s a helpful framework because expressions and perceptions of love vary from person to person. They’re nuanced and ever-evolving and most definitely do not fit a one-size-fits-all mold. That’s not new information, but it bears repeating because I think it’s easy to forget or ignore.
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to tune into and practice using Love Languages (yours and theirs). While it may result in a bit more effort, showing up for each other in this personalized way is a gift in and of itself. It’s the gift of time and attention – genuine thoughtfulness and care.
If you aren’t familiar with the 5 Love Languages, they are:
- Words of Affirmation: verbal or written acknowledgments of affection
- Physical Touch: physical signs of affection
- Acts of Service: doing helpful things, like errands or chores
- Quality Time: spending meaningful time together and giving your undivided attention
- Receiving Gifts: thoughtful gifts of any size (tangible or intangible)
Perhaps the bigger hurdle here is the mere notion and pressure of coming up with thoughtful ideas and gestures. Or maybe it’s the quandary of logistics – how does one make time to pull off any of these ideas when we’re just so dang busy and when Valentine’s Day is just a few days away.
It’s probably a little of column A and a little of column B, which makes sense. It’s generally not a lack of wanting to nurture and support our relationships. But balancing the ongoing effort required to maintain healthy relationships against work, projects, to-dos, hobbies, and so on is just a lot. How quickly we run out of spoons for both ourselves and for our loved ones.
Luckily, there’s a solution! The best antidote for spoon depletion or deficit is to ask for help.
In this case, asking for help with logistics and ideation can offer enough relief to restore the joy of celebrating your relationships and connections. And, as professional planners and taskmasters (who happen to love celebrating love), we want to help you express and honor those love languages – this Valentine’s Day and all year long!