Why I secretly love Valentine’s Day

Gigglers, I have a confession to make. As a snarky, self-deprecating individual (with the mouth of a sailor, I might add) what I’m about to admit might surprise you: I freaking love Valentine’s Day.

It’s become a fairly popular opinion that Valentine’s Day is an over-commercialized Hallmark holiday that makes people feel bad about themselves and is a good a excuse for florists and chocolatiers to make beaucoup bucks. But I’ve come to regard it as possibly the best holiday of them all. Let me explain.

I used to be among those who loathed Valentine’s Day. It all felt like so much pressure. Everything about it annoyed me, down to the candy conversational hearts and every cutesy card in between. But then something changed. I know what you’re thinking: Oh, you met someone, so you automatically became “Team Valentine’s Day?” Uh, no. Truth be told, I had plenty of Valentine’s Days when I was attached but I still hated the holiday. No matter who I was with, it always seemed like an excuse to set unrealistic expectations for the relationship that would soon be met with disappointment.

Valentine’s Day became special to me when I realized that real love is about what you do every day of the year and all the many loving relationship in your life, not just the romantic ones. That’s something that took me a very long time to figure out.

It sounds unbearably obvious, right? Except it wasn’t for me. In my early twenties, I had this grand delusion that all relationships were supposed to be simple. Easy. Almost . . . passive. I believed that when you met the right person, they would be able to read your mind. To anticipate your needs. To plan the perfect Valentine’s Day.

But love is not simple or easy, and realizing that has made me appreciate it so much more. It’s not something that happens once a year, or in some grand gesture, or in a box of chocolates (although I’ll never turn those down). It’s not even something restricted to romance. Love is beautiful and love is worth celebrating.

There are so many things about life that still confuse me: Death, the electoral college, how to actually style my bangs correctly. But one thing I’ve come to know in my bones is that love of all kinds — between a parent and child, two friends, or romantic partners — is real and it’s worth celebrating. It puts aside the ego’s wants and needs and tends to someone else’s. It wakes up early. It sits with someone when they’re sick. It witnesses pain and offers comfort. And it’s every day. Even Valentine’s Day.

So today, Valentine’s Day, you’ll find me happily indulging in every heart-shaped thing I can find, reminding the people in my life that I love them. Because once I realized how rare and special love was, I wanted to celebrate it every chance I got.

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