Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why I Suddenly Love Valentine's Day

Spoiler 1: If you’re a friend or relative who clicked on this hoping that I discovered a secret admirer who sent me a dozen roses this morning…I didn’t. Sorry to disappoint.

Spoiler 2: If you are angry and bitter about Valentine’s Day and would prefer to be miserable, wear black, and throw rocks at anyone passing by who is holding hands with someone of the opposite gender, you might want to skip this particular post. Come back later when I’m directing my sarcasm at dating people instead of single ones.

What’s that you say? I can’t be sarcastic about singles if I am one?

Really, people. This is America. And the last defenders of freedom of speech will be gun owners and satire writers (and possibly also conspiracy theorists). I maintain that I can mock a group that I am a part of without being a hypocrite. Which leads to….

Spoiler 3: When making fun of single people, I am also making fun of myself. So I’m not entirely a jerk. Please keep that in mind when sending me angry letters.

Single people typically dislike Valentine’s Day. You may have noticed this. Also, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, what goes up must come down, and vanilla Frosties are not worthy of that title, since everyone knows that only chocolate Frosties are legitimate.

Despite the fact that I'm not currently in a relationship, I love Valentine’s Day. Not because I get warm and fuzzy feelings when I see couples gazing into each other’s eyes. I’m not much of a hopeless romantic.

But I am a ninja.

One of the books that has had a big influence on my life is Try Giving Yourself Away, by David Dunn, first published in 1953. It’s about making a habit of giving away little bits of yourself: compliments, letters, credit for a job well done, hugs.

One thing I’ve noticed is that these gifts work best when they’re both unexpected and sincere. Thus the ninja part, which is my own edit and not in the original book.

Unexpected and sincere.

You know when it’s the perfect time to be nice to a clerk at the grocery store who has had a dozen desperate guys yell at her because there are only wilted daisy bouquets left? Valentine’s Day.

The time when your friends, particularly if they’re not in romantic relationships, would appreciate hearing why you think they’re pretty cool? Valentine’s Day.

The most unexpected day to show grace to the waitress who got the order wrong? Valentine’s Day.

The evening when a nice Facebook comment or post on someone’s wall might actually have an impact instead of filling up a busy newsfeed? Valentine’s Day.

I mean, any day will work for these kinds of things. But I recently had a discovery that showed me why it might be more important to be deliberate about loving others on this holiday.

You see, on Valentine’s Day, lots of single people are feeling tired and frustrated and lonely and even scared. One of our deepest shadow fears that we don’t like to admit or express is being alone. Being unworthy of love.

This is probably because we’ve made romance the major, end-all, if-you-don’t-have-this-you’re-not-a-complete-person kind of love. Which we shouldn’t have done.

But, single people out there, the response to this should not be to be angry and complain about this dumb holiday and those dumb chick flicks and every dumb couple we’ve ever known who will probably break up tomorrow and come running to us for Kleenex and sympathy.

It’s interesting. When you fight the fear of inadequacy in others by doing what you can to show love to people on Valentine’s Day, you don’t feel quite as afraid yourself. Or as frustrated or tired or lonely.

So Valentine’s Day. Totally made up holiday? Probably. Ridiculously commercialized? Oh yeah.

Perfect chance to love people in totally counter-cultural ways? Yep, it’s that too.

Best day ever.

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