Valentine’s Day gets a lot of backlash nowadays. And you know, some of it is warranted. Why are we reducing love to pink hearts, stuffed bears, dozens of roses and expensive restaurants? Why do we compare what we give our signicant others to what our friends give theirs and vice versa? Somehow, Valentine’s Day has ingrained itself in our culture; it was a day for class parties in elementary school, awkward dances in middle school, embarrassing singing telegrams in high school, television specials, dinner deals, sales on candy, and so on. It’s as if we try to cram all this obsession with romance into one day.
So we understand where the backlash comes from. Our society has a fixation on romantic relationships, especially over platonic and familial ones. This is made evident on Valentine’s Day, and a lot of naysayers out there will point this out and say their love cannot be commercialized, trivialized or reduced to a stuffed bear and a helium balloon.
And yes, we get all the critiques, all the bad things. We understand it.
But at the root of it all, shouldn’t Valentine’s Day celebrate all kinds of love? And isn’t love — for friends, for family, for your partner, for your pets — just a grand thing? We’re not trying to be overly idealistic. We just want everyone to take a moment and reflect.
Times are contentious right now. There’s a political divide in our country, crises overseas — and that’s just on a macro level. On a smaller scale, there are midterms. There are student loans. There’s worrying about finding a job.
Let’s be real; love isn’t going to fix these things. Love isn’t going to ease the tensions in our country or get us through our midterms or rid us of our debt. But love sure as heck makes those things a lot easier to deal with. Love is not, as the Beatles might claim, all you need. Love has you put others’ needs before your own. Love can be a loud thing — public proposals at Disney World against a setting sun, a child running to greet his or her deployed parent in the airport. Or it can be quiet — being the first one to get up and make coffee, leaving a little note to a friend who had a bad day.
The point is, love deserves to be celebrated. Maybe not with boxes of chocolates and dozens of roses, but in whatever way you feel like it should be celebrated. Maybe that means a handwritten letter to a long-distance friend. Maybe that means an Instagram post dedicated to your sibling. Maybe that means making breakfast for your partner. And maybe that does mean boxes of chocolates and dozens of roses.
Because more often than not, we forget to let people know how much they mean to us and how much we love them. There are so many humans out there we barely like, let alone love. We might as well take the day to let those we do love know it. This Valentine’s Day, instead of making a joke about how lame the holiday is or frantically planning a perfect date, let the people you love know you love them. The world could use a little more love.