Love isn’t a one-definition word

Columnist Regina Anderson discusses her experiences with love and Valentine’s Day.

I’ve never been in love.

For this reason, whenever I say that I love Valentine’s Day, people give me strange looks. Why would I, a perpetually single girl, love a day that is basically a Hallmark card holiday for couples?

Four years ago, I decided that I wanted to hand out cheap store-bought Valentine’s Day cards I gave when I was young. I bought a box of Scooby Doo valentines at Target for $3. I signed my name like I did in elementary school, put them in a bag and brought them to school with me.

I handed them out to anyone who wanted one. I had so much fun watching their faces light up with the recognition of a staple from their childhood. I couldn’t really tell you what motivated me to do it, but I know that it changed how I spent my Valentine’s Day every year afterward.

Valentine’s Day became a huge production for me. As I got to know more people, I began to hand out more and more valentines. By my senior year, I handed out over 150 crappy store-bought valentines. I bought at least three different kinds of cards. I even started baking cupcakes and cookies to give to my friends.

When you are a child, Valentine’s Day is about all kinds of love. You make cards for your parents in class. You hand out boxes of store-bought valentines to your classmates. You show appreciation for the ones you love in your life, no matter their relationship to you.

As you get older, the message changes. The day is no longer about including every type of love. It becomes exclusive to romantic love. Suddenly, you can’t celebrate love because you don’t have the “right” kind of love. Within the past few years, it became my mission to change that.

There’s a recurring theme in media that suggests the most important love we will ever feel is romantic love, that somehow we are incomplete without it in our lives. For me, that has never been the case. My life does not have a hole in it without romance. I still find love in many different places. I’ve found it in my friends, in art, in music, in my family, in life and even in myself. I just never found it romantically. And that’s OK.

The relationships we have and the love we feel in our lives are not any less valuable or special because they aren’t romantic. No one can tell me that my love for my best friend of 10 years is lesser, just because it isn’t romantic.

Whenever people ask me why I love Valentine’s Day, I try to explain that what I love about Valentine’s Day is what we can make it be. It doesn’t have to be a holiday about only romantic love. We don’t have to listen to the messages bombarded at us every February.

Find who you love and celebrate with them. Show them you care and you might find that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a meaningless Hallmark holiday after all.

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