Sunday, 14 February 2016
So, that's Valentine's Day done for another year. For some there will have been flowers, romance, love and so on, but I suspect for most it will have been just another day. For some, it was probably a tough day. A day when every shop, TV advert, facebook update felt like a personal attack. Red hearts and pink champagne dangling just out of reach, saving themselves for those 'in love'. That exclusive and excluding club that makes anyone outside feel a bit sucky, a bit less worthy. And I don't like that. Not one bit.
Earlier this week I had a friend over. She is single and childless and hurting because of this. She's 38 years old and working on accepting that she will never be a mother, not naturally at least. She's a good and successful woman but feels rejected and alone. For her, Valentine's Day magnifies of all of the gaps in her life.
After she left my house I got to thinking. I got mad at Valentine's Day. Stupid commercial, Hallmark holiday. Callous shops, adverts and facebook statuses spurting out Disney-fied versions of love and relationships. And couples...COUPLES! You have each other. You love and hold each other and share memories and homes and children and cars and fears and worries and hopes and dreams all year long. Why spend a day looking further inward, leaving others hanging around on the edges alone? I wanted to stop the whole thing.
Then I realised that stopping all of this nonsense is not the way to go. Yes, Valentine's Day has been hijacked as a day of romance, but we can change that. We can, and should, keep it as a day of love. And here's the difference; romance might get one person interested, but love will make many people stick with us. Love connects more than just couples. It embraces friends, family, pets and communities. It's long lasting, supporting, ever evolving and deserves to be celebrated. So, this year, I reclaimed my Valentine's Day for LOVE.
I messaged my friend and invited her to my house this afternoon. I then went on facebook and invited anyone who felt like being loved and happy on Valentines - regardless of whether they were single, married or anywhere in between - to my house for cake, tea and lovely times.
Two more women joined us. Two awesome women raising kids on their own. They have both been hurt by romantic love in the past. They have no-one to take over mummy duty when it all gets a bit too much. I simply cannot imagine how tired they must feel sometimes but they keep on keeping on regardless. I don't know either of these women well but very much plan to change this.
I knew that the women coming to my house today needed to feel part of Valentine's Day, reminded that they DO have a claim to this festival. Heck, I needed that too. Yes, I have a husband but he's not particularly romantic. No-one was going to spoil me, woo me or treat me so I gave these women the type of Valentine's that would make me feel loved.
Each got a homemade card with an individual message and verse inside. They got red roses tied up in ribbon and a favour bag with heart shaped chocolates, I made lunch and let their kids run riot in my house. I wiped up their spills and assured them it was fine when they pushed my daughter to the ground. We talked, we laughed and generally enjoyed each other. When they left my house was upside down. Nothing was in the same room as it was this morning - even the rug from Dopey's bedroom was lifted out into the living room. It was perfect. I plan on doing the same again next year. Maybe with the same women or maybe they will have moved on by then. I may have a room full or my invitation may not be accepted by anyone. And that will be OK because it will mean everyone feels loved enough already. But I will keep on inviting. I will include the excluded and be the person who shows EVERYONE that they're loved, especially on a day that seems designed for telling us we aren't.