Ah, Valentine’s Day.
The day of love so many tend to loathe while others welcome the warm fuzzies with gigantic appetites that rival my admiration for wine and Skinny Pirates.
As a kid, I carefully crafted a Valentine’s Day mailbox for school every year (you know, back when you could celebrate shit in school without the worry of the teeniest tiniest chance of offending someone). Students weren’t required to participate but I can’t remember when a kid didn’t. Everyone in class gave everyone a Valentine. If a kid didn’t have a box my teacher (shout out to my first grade teacher, Mrs. Shawler who reads this blog!) had an extra shoebox or two wrapped in red paper. No one was left out.
I was always lucky that I had a family who liked to celebrate everything, so no holiday was ignored. Not even one that I now often hear claims that it’s “made up” for people to get gifts. (Well peeps, if you treated your loved ones “special” all the time, grand gesture days wouldn’t be needed, now would they? You could simply just get a well-meaning card or write a note from the heart any day of the year but I digress). My sister and I’d wake up at home to little Valentines on our chairs at the kitchen table, maybe along with a small box of chocolates. We were always excited for the party to take place that day at school.
Fast forward to high school when the day of admiration became a sport of sorts.
The Honor Society sold carnations to fellow students for a dollar every Valentine’s week and the members would drop the flower off to your designated recipient anonymously. Some peeps had armloads. Some had none. I just wanted a pink one.
Some girls got called to the office and paraded delivered – delivered in a vase and everything – flowers around school. It didn’t matter if it was from their dad, grandparents or boyfriend. I was one jealous bitch. Then, in an instant, that all changed.
Because I became that girl one year.
The Honor Society members delivered carnations during first period. I was in concert band every morning with my sweet silver Doc Severinsen trumpet at my side. My sophomore year, the doors flung open and the band instructor stopped our warm-up. A group of kids came in hauling carnations in large buckets for their soon-to-be owners. While I was hoping to get a flower or two, my eyes laid sight on the mother of all Valentine’s day hauls. A gigantic, white stuffed teddy bear with a red bow around its neck, holding a bag of Hershey’s Kisses. So enormous, you couldn’t see the person transporting it.
I think I literally turned green with envy at whoever was going to be the recipient of this stuffed animal. I mean, I thought I would get a flower or two because my girlfriends and I always sent them back and forth. But this, this shit was different. This was the stuff that
warm and fuzzy, cheesy as fuck Valentine’s memories were crafted.
Being in the brass of the band, I sat in the last row of the room. And I’ll be damned if that fucking bear didn’t inch its way closer and closer. I kept thinking…which girl had a boyfriend that sat near me? I couldn’t wait to see who was going to get the pristine bear.
As the hidden stuffed animal transporter walked behind me, I almost gave myself whiplash looking to my left. But to my unabashed chagrin, that motherfucker was lifted over my head and sat into my lap. Hershey’s fucking kisses and all. To this day, that is one of my best Valentine’s Days (which may seem a little sad since my day of love peaked in high school but I mean, it’s true).
This moment of sweetness it didn’t come from a love interest. It came from a friend. From a best friend who (although didn’t take me to his senior prom and I will never, ever let him forget it) remains a bestie to this day.
The teddy bear came from Scooby.
This gesture seemed like the grandest of all gestures in the universe at the time. All of these years later, it still does. My gay best friend delivered my grandest Valentine’s Day memory. Why was this so significant? Because he didn’t have to do anything. But he loved me and wanted me to know. Isn’t that just a simple thing to do?
Scooby was celebrating Galentine’s Day with me before Galentine’s Day was a thing.
Galentine’s Day started about a decade ago on the TV show, Parks and Recreation by Amy Poehler’s character to celebrate “ovaries before brovaries”. It was about women celebrating female friendship.
Now, Galentine’s is a nonofficial holiday celebrating all things love without romance.
Grand gestures aren’t needed (but if any of you have a Louis Vuitton en route for delivery today, professing your love for me, I am not going to turn it down). A single flower is nice. A card will do. A simple text message. A smile, a hug, a thank you. Whether it’s love or like in today’s climate, bringing happiness to any and all of those around us isn’t really that hard. We just have to be kind to let one another know that we like – or even love – them.
Finding yourself in a non-traditional Valentine’s day sitch? You aren’t alone. You do have love in your life.
Maybe we are madly in love with our offspring and the kids around us…
Maybe we are in love with our partner who we married on Valentine’s Day…
Maybe we are madly in love with our careers, jobs, work pals….
Maybe we are madly in love with our parents and write them letters to them when they’re away…
Maybe we are madly in love with extended family…
Maybe we are madly in love with our fur babies (which you all know I’m bat shit about mine and is honestly the greatest love in the entire universe)…
Maybe we are madly in love with thoughts of yesteryear…
Maybe we are madly in love with our sibling…
Maybe we are madly in love with our friends…
Regardless of what it is in your life that you love, be madly in love with your own authentic self first.
If you don’t love (let alone like) yourself as your own #1, no one will love the true you who is meant to be loved.
Be your own damn Valentine. Because whether you realize it or not, there is some sort of love in your life worth celebrating (even if that deep, deep love is for binge watching Netflix).
Make some snacks.
Toast to yourself.
Whatever it may be, treat yourself to your version of my stuffed teddy bear this Valentine’s Day.
After spreading some love around the office today, I’m mauling my fur babies and then taking myself out with First Mate. The same as we did last Galentine’s Day and the year prior- to not only toast to our love of one another but also to how badass we both are in our own right.
Last day of love we went to Sperry’s – an old school steak house where the same patrons have been visiting during the restaurant’s 45-year existence. First Mate and I felt like runway supermodels surrounded by folks in their eighth decade of life and said yes to the complimentary dessert and adult beverages that headed our way.
Now go be the love of your own damn life. If you need inspiration, please think of me.
Love ya, mean it.