By Rachael Grothe, February 13 2020 —
Can you feel it in the air? The snow slush squishing under your boot, the cold grey mornings rolling like a blanket over the city, the faces of exhaustion among the students on campus waiting for Reading Break — it’s the season of love! Why is Valentine’s Day such a controversial holiday? People seem to either love the holiday or downright despise it. Many of those who dread the sight of the shiny red heart-shaped chocolate boxes and bright pink fluffy teddy bears lining the shelves of major chain grocery stores complain that the purpose of the holiday has been smothered by commercialism and an obsession with materialistic consumption. But can’t that be argued for any holiday? We are living through a late-stage capitalist societal slump, and corporations are going to use any excuse to profit off the interests of the masses. Whether you choose to spend your money this Valentine’s Day or not, everyone can acknowledge and appreciate it’s fundamental message.
The secret to the joy of Valentine’s Day is to celebrate every form of love in your life, from the look on your pet’s face when you come home from classes to your parents’ unsolicited financial support or your coworkers’ familiar greetings and salutations. Valentine’s Day is all about showing an appreciation for all the little things that make us feel happy and welcome in our community. It is a lost opportunity not to take the time in February to show gratitude for the love that is shown to you by giving a little love back. Cards, chocolates, stuffed animals and flowers — these are all traditional forms of Valentine’s Day gifts. But consider how special it would be to receive something unconventional as a small thank you from a loved one this holiday. Homemade is always a good bet, like baked goods or DIY crafts, but even just a small gesture or verbalized gratitude in a private moment is a simple way to make the day special for anyone you care about.
Single on Valentine’s Day 2020? There is a toxic emphasis on the perceived paramount form of love between partners or significant others. This is a reflection of the Western culture of individualism, in contrast with more collectivist cultures in other parts of the world. If you’re feeling lonely because you just so happen to be looking for a significant other while Valentine’s Day passes, always remember that you are a whole person. There is no other half waiting for you out there. You may be compatible with more than one person, but no one can complete you. If you need, consider taking Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to express a little self love.
Do something for yourself — there’s no wrong way to celebrate the holiday if you are celebrating love. The wrong way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is tearing others down for their partnerships or focusing on the loneliness of others. If a failed relationship is making it difficult for you to focus on the little forms of love that currently exist in your life, try to remember that at some point in time, that person probably brought you some joy that you wouldn’t have experienced if you hadn’t met them. Learn to appreciate that and be grateful for it — let everything else go. Sometimes cutting ties with an unfit partner can be the most difficult form of self love to practice, but ultimately such an experience can be valued as a part of growth, like pruning the parts of a flower that have wilted during the cold months. Just think of the blooms in your future! Be optimistic this Valentine’s Day. You have the power to make it a special day by remembering the true meaning of celebrating love and taking the opportunity to show appreciation for all of the loved ones in your life.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.