It’s the thirteenth of February today and that means tomorrow will be…….either your favorite day of the year, the day you celebrate love and all things loving, or the worst day of your year, the day you are acutely aware of the absence of love and all things loving in your life.
Valentines Day may have a history steeped in tradition and romanticism but the reality for those of us in the west is that it is simply another money-grab opportunity from those with something vaguely ‘romantic’ to sell, a marketing tool for restaurants, resorts, hotels and anywhere couples might go. You can’t go anywhere around this time of year without spotting the obligatory red hearts everywhere and being confronted at almost every turn with some sign inviting us to buy this or go there to show the one we love how much we care……
And of course the down side to all of this is how confronting that can all be for those with no special person in their lives, or those for whom love has been empty, vacuous or lost.
What strikes me as the most significant aspect of all this is how shallow our perception of love is. Or should I say how shallow a sense of love is portrayed and that we then swallow?
I have always celebrated Valentines Day — over the years I have done various things — put out some pretty red heart shaped candles I have, made a special meal for my family — something they all love, encouraged the children to make pretty heart shaped cards and send them to each other, buy heart shaped chocolates to share…….
The thing is we can make Valentines Day be about ALL aspects of love and not just the romantic notion of love it is narrowly portrayed as (and marketed to us) as being, we can take ownership of how we choose to play the Valentines Day game and instead of allowing it to bring our singleness into sharp focus and receive a message of isolation, loneliness or loss, we can allow our focus to shift to the many other aspects of love that abound around us.
If you have ever watched the TV show, Park’s and Recreation, you will be familiar with actor Amy Pohler’s character, Lesley Knope, an upbeat take of a woman in leadership. Lesley Knope doesn’t focus on Valentines Day and all it’s cliche’d marketing, instead she celebrates what she calls ‘Gal-entines Day on the 13th. I responded so warmly to the main characters’ idea of celebrating what she called ‘Galentines Day’ on the 13th February.
Her idea on the show, and in fact Amy’s real life practice, is to make the 13th February a day to celebrate the ‘Gals’ in our lives, to focus on the awesome friendships and loving support we know from good and trusted friends.
I love that idea. I love it because it broadens our view of love and because it makes us think about what we have instead of focusing our attention on what we don’t have. I love it because it is positive and creative and practical and real.
With Valentines Day just one sleep away, are you allowing yourself to succumb to the devices of marketers and salesmen who honestly just want you to buy their products, are you allowing yourself to feel any sense of being ‘less than’ if you do not currently have a special person in your life to buy flowers for, or receive flowers from? Are you allowing yourself to be played or are you prepared to take responsibility for your own life and take charge of how YOU will play the Valentines Day game?
If you are ready to take charge, then join me in making today be all about your awesome ‘gal’ friends and make tomorrow be all about showing love — show love to your friends, show love to your family, show love to yourself.
Make Valentines Day a day you celebrate the love you DO know!
Sue Parry-Jones is a trained counsellor, a social worker and survivor of abuse. The content of the blog is both personal and sound. The words are relate-able and widely appealing to those struggling with survival from abuse in their own lives. More and more we are appreciating in our society that abuse affects a number of people’s lives and as more people are beginning to openly discuss what they have endured, so there is a huge need for encouragement and hope in the form of texts that deliver clear and concise yet real input. THe words shared here are honest, real and heart-felt.