To Valentine or Not to Valentine? THAT is the question!

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Over the weekend my Newsfeed was been filled with a mixture of those adding photos and messages of love, (both sending stuff out there and sharing what they received)… and those deriding the “holiday” and sharing their disdain (or even hatred) for it!

My husband and I had a long chat about it last night. I have always had very mixed feelings on Valentine’s Day, as well as on Mother’s and Father’s Day. In my experience, I have come across many people who struggle with all these days for all kinds of reasons; either it is a painful anniversary of something going badly wrong, a hurtful reminder of broken relationships, feelings of missing out, grieving for their own lack of romantic love on Valentine’s Day, or loss of healthy or strong parent-child relationships on those other days. Bad memories, unhelpful reminders, stabs through the heart, and anger instead of love…

And having survived another year of being wished Happy Valentine’s Day over and over by everyone from friends to shop assistants, and being given heart shaped lollipops and chocolates at the service station, the street corner and the restaurant where we went for dinner with friends (which had NOTHING to do with Valentines Day), … as well as having a loving husband who refuses point blank to recognise any of the stupid, ridiculous, money making, commercial Hallmark holidays.. …we climbed into bed and I brought up the dreaded subject! The elephant in the room, the thing that neither of us had mentioned for three days since we were given the first lollipops on the way home form work on Friday afternoon.

He said as he does every year, that “we don’t do Valentine’s Day” as if this is not only something that we have both agreed on and discussed, but even more so, as if it is a position to be proud of. A bit like “we rise above that kind of nonsense” or “we don’t get sucked into that, so aren’t we clever!” and I struggled to answer, not because I didn’t agree with him, but I couldn’t help wondering whether I myself do not entirely agree with his stance either! So he asked me what my needs are, … do I have a need for him to buy me flowers on Valentine’s Day?

We stopped to talk about it and while I felt a little put on the spot, he gave me all the time I needed to think it through… and quite quickly I realised that I had always felt or assumed that there were only two options and that I could only pick A or B. That almost everyone I know is either very much for or passionately against Valentines Day. That it is extremely polarising, and there doesn’t appear to be a middle grown. And as I processed that, the next though that quickly followed was that I didn’t think that I was truly in either camp! I wasn’t strongly committed to either point of view.Or more accurately, I had a level of discomfort for both! I think now that we processed it last night, I think that for all these years of knowing his strong stance on A (against) and my lack of conviction towards B (for), I had pretty well just gone along with A for all these years. But is there a middle road? Are there any other options to pick?

And so we had an amazing discussion and almost from nowhere, I processed my thought and tried to find words for them at the same time, I realised that my stance on Valentines Day is this…

I have always been very passionate about community, connectedness, relationships. Family is everything to me and so is my God. I don’t believe that God created Christmas or Thanksgiving or Mother’s Day or Valentines Day, or that there is any moral aspect to any of them. BUT, if you look across all cultures in all corners of the world, from the poorest of poor all the way through to Royalty, from the most advanced down to the most primitive, and if you look all the way back through history since time began (regardless of belief system or science based framework of time or history), these three things, community, connectedness, and relationships … a sense of belonging to your tribe, have always been the glue that binds human beings together.

And human beings love to come together over a meal, a special meal if possible, and to remember and recognise each other and the mile stones of life. It is in our DNA, it was what we were designed to do; whether it is a coming of age ceremony in a remote village, a wake in the pub in Ireland, a wedding, a funeral, a swearing in ceremony in parliament, a baby head wetting, or a cigar after a birth. We celebrate baby showers New Year’s Eve, and we celebrate deaths, marriages, farewells and welcome homes. It is what we do. It is what binds us.

As do our relationships. We celebrate the anniversaries of when we started dating, got married, had a baby, and bought our first home. We love to be told that we are loved, and we show our love to each other in a myriad of ways: through words of encouragement, acts of service, giving and receiving of gifts, hugging and kissing and holding hands, and/or spending time with each other. It is part of the fibre of our beings, both physically and emotionally, as well as spiritually and psychologically.

I believe that Jesus wasn’t born on the 25th of December, but Christians as a culture have celebrated His birth each year because it is something important to them. It has nothing to do with the date. Obviously dates are a vital part of all celebrations, but the fact that when exact dates cannot be remembered or found, we still celebrate anyway, … as humans we find a date and we make it ours. This applies to everything from adopted children who’s birth paperwork was dodgy, to people who are born on the 29th of February. If you were born in a leap year on that date, you don’t miss out on three out of four birthdays, you just make do and pick the closest one that suits!

I believe that we were designed to celebrate our love for each other, our connectedness, and the special people in our lives. There is a reason that the world calendars used to be filled with everything from Christmas to Thanksgiving to birthdays to Independence Days. Labour Days and Queen’s Birthdays, and so the list goes on…

Why? Because as humans we like to stop and remember. We like to recognise and take stock. If there was no Christmas or Easter, those who know and love and have a relationship with Jesus will still go to Heaven. Marriages would survive if you never remembered or celebrated what date it began. And amazingly, people with cancer are fought for every single day (and hard!), not just on “Daffodil Day”. But when we stop now and then, and say to those we love “today I want to celebrate you” or “today I want to remember you” … and sometimes to say “I love you every day, but today is a fabulous excuse to stop and say that I am glad that you are my mother, or father, or the love of my life, or you are fighting your battle with illness like a champ! There is a jolly good reason that band new special days are added to our calendars every year. We now stop and recognise wars ending, diseases being fought, even national tragedies.

It is really easy to say “but I love you everyday” …. but the reality is that we lead busy lives, there is a lot going on, and sometimes we forget to show it. Others of us find it super difficult to say “I love you”. And for them, these special days are a blessing, a time when they can easily show how much they love and appreciate their parent or spouse or loved one, without having to find the words themselves.

I believe that if Hallmark had not come up with these silly excuses to sell greeting cards, as human beings we would have found another way. We WANT to celebrate and we love any excuse for a party!

This for me does not take away AT ALL, from the fact that these human celebrations (not just these three “tacky” ones, but the big “more acceptable” ones too!!), are a source of pain for those who miss out. For those who don’t have anyone to share them with, or that they had tragedies occur on those days in their history, or are a source of some other kind of pain, my heart breaks for them as it does for my own pain, and the sad stuff that pops up on each and every one of these celebrations is immense..

And so I guess, when all this came out of me last night, in the end I decided this:

No, I don’t want him to buy me flowers of Valentines Day as such. But I do think that it is a natural human response to want to be celebrated and loved at ANY celebration of the year. I am extremely blessed to have someone in my life who tells me he loves me a lot, and totally means it and shows it in all kinds of ways, all through the year. But not everyone has that, and even those who do, don’t like “missing out”. NO ONE wants to be left out of the celebrations around them.  We all love being remembered and told that we are special. I would love it I think if on all the “celebration days” of the year, that he would tell me that he celebrates me on this day as well as all days!

And so to those of you whose loved ones made you feel special yesterday, I am truly truly happy for you and I don’t believe that it was tacky or silly or shallow. Enjoy!!

But just as importantly, for those of you who felt sad or angry yesterday, for those who felt that yesterday was salt rubbed into your often open aloneness wounds, I deeply deeply feel for you and I hear you!

Celebrate away people, … but please, can I ask you not to forget that some around you are hurting, and also give them a reminder that you love them too xxx