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Put the “Love” back into Valentine’s Day

By Lauren Olson, February 13 2020 —

Alright, all you Valentine’s Day cynics, this one’s for you. 

Remember in elementary school when Valentine’s Day was one of the most exciting days of school? You’d go to the store and pick out your card set with your favourite cartoon or Disney characters on them, choose which candy you’d pair them with and then excitedly and meticulously print all your classmates’ names on them in preparation for class the next day. Then, the day of, you’d put your cards into each person’s individual card basket, and then wait with all the anticipation for the time of the day when everyone got to open their cards and treats! Those were the days — everyone got the message that the class was a whole little family full of love and each person had at least 20 valentines. 

When did it all turn negative? When we all grew up and had our hearts broken a time or two? When we started having to pay for Valentine’s Day costs ourselves? When being single on Valentine’s day somehow became a bad thing or when being in a relationship on Valentine’s Day meant pressure to come up with the right special date? It’s understandable that Valentine’s Day became way less fun as an adult than it was as a child. But, with that said, I think with a little attitude adjustment we adults can learn to love it again.

The first thing that has to go if we’re going to start liking Valentine’s day again is that we have to do away with the expectations. Whether you’re single or a part of a pair, do not expect anything. Expectations are the root of all problems because something can always happen to derail them. Restaurant reservations can be mixed up, maybe someone gets sick, a gift gets lost or broken, timing doesn’t work out — the list of things that can go wrong is endless. Rather than getting upset that your perfect plans got messed up, adapt a go-with-the-flow attitude and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy whatever the day brings.

Let’s say you’re single this Valentine’s Day. Great! Instead of feeling sorry for yourself or disguising your bitterness in bravado and pseudo-independent-woman-I-don’t-need-a-man facade, how about giving yourself some actual self-love on Valentine’s Day? I’m not talking about going for a mani, drinking a whole bottle of wine or throwing an obnoxious “Galentine’s Day” party for all your single friends to sit around clucking about how stupid boys are. I’m talking about asking yourself what’s something you truly love to do for yourself? For me, a quiet evening at home with a great book and some delicious tea or a glass of wine and an early bedtime sounds deliciously indulgent and like something I’d kill for. It’s not about being upset about being single, it’s about giving yourself the love you think you should be getting from someone else. Again, it’s about letting go of those expectations. 

For you readers who are in a relationship, what if instead of doing the usual “dinner out” type date and fighting the crowds and being annoyed at all the pre-set menus that restaurants like to throw together for Valentin’e’s Day, you and your partner did something you both actually felt like doing? Cooking a nice meal together could be lovely. Or you could order take-out and stay in your comfy clothes and have a Netflix marathon cozied up on the couch. There are so many ways couples can get their love on together on Valentine’s Day without buying into the chaotic nature of the day. The whole point of the day is to spend some quality time with your partner, so why not do something you both enjoy so that the day doesn’t turn into just something else you “have” to do? Honestly, I think so many relationships get stale because each individual is wrapped up in their own stuff that partners tend to put the relationship on the back burner. Valentine’s Day could be either a time to further separate, through stress and expectations, or it could be used to really get back in touch with your significant other. Check in with each other, see how you’re both feeling and doing, remind one another why you love each other. It doesn’t matter what you do, as much as it matters why you’re doing it. 

Personally, as a service industry worker, I will be serving all you couples out for your romantic night at the restaurant. I know I’m not the only waitress around and I’m sure some of you reading are also gearing up for a busy night, too. Working on Valentine’s Day can kind of suck because everyone is stressed out and it’s busy and people have high expectations and blah blah blah. But, the way I’m choosing to look at it this year is that I get to be a part of so many people’s special night! I get to recommend an amazing wine to go with their dinner selections, I get to witness couples who have been together for years and I get to see the sweetness of budding new couples awkwardly out and on their best behaviours. Rather than getting caught up in the stress of the night, deciding that it’ll be cute to serve all the couples who are braving the busy city seems like a better approach.

To me, it’s all about having a good attitude and being open to whatever happens. There’s no need to be grumpy and wish things were different or think something should be a certain way. t’s only one day out of the year.  And having said that, my opinion is, it’s a day dedicated to love which is pretty great. Reframing the idea of “love” to be all-encompassing instead of limiting it to a romantic relationship — which, understandably can have a lot of strings attached — would be a positive way of looking at it. I think all of us could do with a little more love in our thoughts, so might as well embrace it!

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