I found myself thinking about the meaning of Valentine’s Day when I arrived home two evenings ago. I pondered the rituals common to this holiday. For instance, I gave thought to how Valentine’s Day is a time when couples express their love through various means of gift-giving (such as giving red roses or a box of chocolate candy), through expressions of affection, and through greeting cards that are felt to best capture their thoughts and feelings. I also gave thought to how many couples cap off the holiday with a romantic dinner at home or a restaurant.
Of course, adults are not the only ones looking to celebrate love on February fourteenth. I pondered how, for many children, it’s a day for giving their parents and other adults important to them cards crafted at school from construction paper and adorned with crayon or paint drawings, stickers, and glued-on clippings in the shape of hearts. I thought about how this celebrated occasion also represents a day when many children exchange cards with classmates as a token of their friendship.
Then there’s the big question that many may ask themselves at the end of the day. What was the highlight of the holiday? Was it the chocolate candies in the all-to-familiar heart-shaped boxes or the chocolate-covered strawberries? Was it the one (or more) dozen red roses? Was it the romantic dinner by candlelight? My wife, for instance, has always welcomed a romantic candlelit dinner at a restaurant. But there has always been something about strawberries dipped in milk or white chocolate that she lovingly welcomed with arms and mouth wide open.
How about children? Was it heart-shaped candies, whatever type candies they might be, that was seen as the favorite part of the day for them? Or, was it the small gifts, such as pencils, stickers, and erasers, that they received from their teachers, classmates, or both? From my observation of my own kids digging into the bag of candy, they brought home from school, I suspect it was the sugar treats 😉
Whether or not candies, red roses, or a candlelit dinner were the highlight of the day named after Saint Valentine, the holiday is indeed seen as an important time for many people who might describe themselves as hopeless romantics. I would like to give pause, however, to what I view as the deeper meaning of this holiday, namely the value of loving those who are close and dear to our hearts.
While February fourteenth is a day that symbolizes love and romance, I believe that an expression of love should be a daily gesture. I also believe that an expression of love should be accompanied by an expression of gratitude. I do not offer this commentary to devalue Valentine’s Day. Rather, I’m looking to underscore the importance of expressing love and gratitude as a year-round practice. I’m also looking to underscore the importance of connecting with others who are significant to us (and may not have a significant other) by expressing our gratitude for their involvement in our lives. This is something that most elementary school teachers foster in their students by way of having them exchange Valentine’s Day cards. This does not necessarily mean sending a friend one dozen red roses. A card or simple phone call would suffice (although I suspect some friends wouldn’t mind candy or chocolate covered strawberries 🙂 ). After all, expressing love and gratitude demonstrate how much we value our relationship with loved ones. It is indeed a health-promoting practice to benefit anyone who does it on a regular basis. And it is a health-promoting benefit to recipients of this heart-warming gesture.
So consider surprising the person who completes you with roses or some other expression of love along with a “thank you” during times when she or he least expects it. And take a moment to think about someone whom you feel could benefit from a heartwarming card or phone call. I’m certain these would be welcomed gestures.
Wishing you a health-promoting, post-Valentine Day!
Photo credit: Health-promoting Bandwagon.
From the HPB Archives: Originally published on April 9, 2018.
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