Valentine’s Day is a holiday that changes meaning to me as I get older.
When I was a child, Valentine’s Day meant thin paper valentines of popular cartoon characters passed out among my classmates. It meant candy hearts and cupcakes or cookies made by someone’s mother.
Aside from Christmas and Halloween, it was one of the best holidays of the school year. Our teachers would let us break for a few hours and have cupcakes and exchange Valentine’s. I didn’t know what the day was about and I certainly didn’t know Valentine’s Day was named for a person.
As a young teenager, I remember being focused on having a “Valentine." Among my friends, it was a big deal to say you were “going out” with someone around Valentine’s Day for the sake of getting a card or other gift befitting a 13-year-old.
In my day, “going out” with someone meant you’d see a movie on weekends with a group of people, talk on the phone after school and pass notes to each other during the day in school.
Although, it was usually the girls who wrote the notes and the boys usually made a one or two-word response. By this time, I knew it was actually St. Valentine’s Day and the holiday was about love, but that was as far as my young brain had gone.
By the time I reached high school, my view of Valentine’s Day had done a 180. Most teenagers rebel against certain things and for me, Valentine’s Day was one of them. I know, I know, I am such a trailblazer. Thank you, thank you, I do what I can.
So “rebellious” in fact, that I wore black every Valentine’s Day of my high school career. Which, looking back, was not a big deal since I wore all black a lot. (Suffice it to say, I was a little Goth before Goth was Goth).
I shunned the gift of flowers because, “What’s the point? They just die anyway.” I felt that Valentine’s Day was a sham because you should be romantic and attentive toward the person you love all year long, not just one day a year.
It was my own way of “standing up to the man." Valentine’s Day was just propaganda put out there by the candy makers and greeting card writers. At least by now I had heard of St. Valentine, even if I was a little melodramatic back then. But hey, what teenager isn’t?
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties, that I got curious and did a little digging about St. Valentine. Not surprising, St. Valentine is the patron saint of love, among many other things.
As I’ve gotten older, the meaning of Valentine’s Day has changed yet again. I have developed a more spiritual appreciation for the holiday.
I believe it is more than candy and cards, although I do love a good chocolate heart and tear jerking, “I-love-you-so-much-my-soul-isn’t-complete-without-you” card.
Valentine’s Day now reminds me to reflect on the love in my life and to be thankful for everyone who makes me feel loved without the aid of cards, candy or flowers.