Alright, I admit it. I like Valentine's Day. Not a popular attitude amongst my peers. I'm supposed to dislike it as a commercial Hallmark holiday. (Which of our holidays doesn't fall under that category, I wonder?)
I get it. I get that there can be all this pressure to pick out the right thing for the special someone, or pick out the right someone for the special thing, or to feel badly if there's no special someone right now. There's this evil implication that one must spend silly amounts of money. I get all that.
See, we're doing it wrong.
I've got a six-year-old at home, and he absolutely loves Valentine's Day. Last night we were sitting at the kitchen table while I helped him address the last of the little paper valentines to his classmates, each emblazoned with a small electric guitar and bearing the expression, "You rock!"
This is where it's at, I think. First-graders have it wired. Little paper tokens shared with everyone that say things like "You're sweet" or "Let's be friends." What the world needs now is love. I'm all for it. Spread it around.
A co-worker in my department, at least ten years my junior and recently engaged, asked what special plans everyone had for Valentine's Day. We all blinked. Well, I thought, its a Thursday. That means Shawn and I will cook dinner, help Luke study for his math and spelling tests, and then do the dishes and read bedtime stories.
The thing is, life is full of workdays with meals and tests and committee meetings, but the workdays aren't life, you know? It's not such a bad thing to have a few days on the calendar set aside to remind you that most the "have-tos" on the list aren't really that important in the grand scheme of things.
This morning, my husband put his arms around me and said, "Do you want to have a picnic with me for lunch? There's a park by my office."
"Yeah, I do."
So it's Valentine's Day. That doesn't have to mean wearing the little black dress with the dozen red roses in the kind of fancy restaurant that only really exists in Meg Ryan movies. It can mean a paper heart glued on to a piece of paper to make a friend smile, or putting off the meeting to have cheese and crackers in the park with your husband, or giggling while you push the button on the little animated game Google came up with for the day (my favorite match is the rabbit and the dolphin).
And sure, you can do that stuff any day of the year, not just February 14th. But do you?
This morning, I stopped in at the coffee shop on the way in to work. It's right across the street from the high school, and there are often a handful of kids in there in the morning. When I walked in today, there was a boy sitting at a table-for-two with his feet propped up on a chair, messing around on his iPhone. Sitting across from him was a teddy bear as big as my kid. While I was waiting for my drink, a punked-out girl with spiky hair opened the door, and then stopped dead still. The boy looked up at her with a big grin. The shy little smile she was hiding behind her hands as she approached the boy had me smiling ear to ear from across the room. Still does.