Thursday, February 14, 2008

Only Selfish People Hate Valentine's Day

There. I said it. I still love you. I just don't understand you. Hear me out.

I have had so many friends---real and cyber---express their disdain for this innocent little love day. Here are some of their reasons:

It's just a reminder that I'm alone.

I don't have a Valentine. Again.

I don't want my husband to feel forced into being loving. He should love me every day.

And on, and on. Well, here's what I have to say:

Every person has someone they can love. Husband or boyfriend aside, there is someone in your life you could love a little bit better. So here's a perfect day to do it!

Who cares if you have a Valentine. Be one! That's my view. If you're sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and your sad, pitiful life, then you're missing the point! Love is about other people, not you. Find someone to express love and gratitude to, and you'll feel like such a star! It will return to you a thousand fold.

I've heard more women complaining about how their husbands don't show enough love or thoughtfulness, and now we're putting stipulations on when and how they can show it? No wonder they say women can't be pleased! We're an impossible bunch! Well, here's some advice from a once-scorned woman: take whatever they give. The goal is to have your husband thinking about you as much as possible (and you him)! Who cares if it's for a holiday? That doesn't mean his thoughtful gestures and expressions of love are any less genuine! I don't hear too many people saying "Don't buy me a Christmas/birthday present just because it's Christmas/my birthday. You should buy me presents just because." And really, the goal is not to be focusing on what our husbands are doing for us, because we're supposed to be consumed with how we're making the day special for them.

Valentine's Day is my second favorite holiday. I love it. I love it because I love LOVE, and I have tremendous hope for love, even though I have not had great or natural success in it personally. I wish there was more of it. I try to be loving every single day, but I appreciate extra special gestures of love coming my way, so I know others do too. I am not some Valentine Pollyanna, though. Most of my Valentine's Days have been absolutely horrid and utterly disappointing--even devastating--from a selfish point of view. I never had a boyfriend for Valentine's Day. All of my teenage relationships either started just after, or ended just before February 14 (smart guys?). My first husband told me he was leaving me just three days before Valentine's Day one year, and the next year he confessed his affair at that same time of year. I was single and broke for many Valentine's Days. The first two in this marriage have left much to be desired in the way of matrimonial romance...this year only just barely scraped by with a storybook save. But, still, I will not give up on this day of love. Because it isn't about me.

This year, I had some fences to mend with a meddlesome elderly neighbor. I regret to admit that when she came over the other day to make a complaint about our boys' skateboard riding during the day when she wanted to nap...and then got personal about me as a mother...I slammed my door in her face. Valentine's Day to the rescue! I went and apologized to her later that same day (as did she), but today was the perfect day to extend a hand of friendship and so we delivered a plate of red velvet cupcakes with buttercream frosting and some chocolate heart sugar cookies sandwiched with hot fudge sauce between them to her doorstep. She melted. We did too.

This year, I needed my husband to know that his children are important to me even when they're not here with us. Valentine's Day to the rescue! We took a basket of goodies over to their mom's house and not only did she welcome us in with gratitude and then invite us to stay for pizza and some pool, but afterwards I could tell that the bigger gift was my husband's. It meant the world to him that I thought to make the effort.

This year we wanted the teenage girl across the street, who has Down's Syndrome, to know that she is loved. Valentine's Day to the rescue! She was aglow when she opened the door to see the kids standing there with cupcakes.

And on, and on.

As for me? Well, like I said, this Valentine's Day was saved at the last minute in a most divine way, that maybe someday I'll share, but it did turn out to be an incredible day. I believe that's because what we give out comes back to us. How can anyone hate a day about love, unless she's only thinking about herself? Isn't love our biggest mantra as mothers? Love is expanding and deepening and soul-perfecting. Today was loving. And I loved it.
And now that the kids are in's about to get better.


Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I love that you incorporated other people into your Valentines Day and focused on the love aspect, not just the romance. Jenna, you're awesome. You inspire me to be a better person.

Sarah said...

I agree with what Holly are truly inspiring! I totally look up to you!

Hannah said...

I love Valentine's Day too. I've got a little bit of Martha in me so I'm always trying to make things picture perfect. Mike is totally one of "the others" though. He doesn't want to feel forced into showing his love for me on a specific day. Whatever. He's getting better about it though. We had a very nice Valentine's Day.

Hey did you use the red velvet recipe I posted or was that a different recipe?

Jenna said...

Hannah, yes, it was yours, and it turned out beautifully! I used my own buttercream recipe though (cause I try never to use shortening). Lyndsay and I had fun making these. Tell Mike it's an excuse. And tell him I love him.

Luisa Perkins said...

You're such a saint, darling. They should rename it "St. Jenna's Day."

Jenna said...

Luisa, you know me well enough to know that I am nowhere near sainthood. Are you making fun of me? :) Besides, one saint in the family (my father, St. Holiday) is quite enough!

Holly Homemaker said...

I have to admit, Valentine's Day to me is not a big deal. I'ts just a day like any other. Don't expect much different from others and I'm afraid I don't give much different either. You have inspired me to make next year's better...for others.

Julie Q. said...

This is wonderful advice Jenna. I'll admit that I was feeling rather bah humbugish yesterday because I hate feeling forced into feeling a certain way on a certain day. But you are totally right: that's a selfish attitude. I'd like to take back the day but I guess I'll have to do better next time. Cupcakes make the world go round.

Jenna Wood said...

OK, OK! You win. This Valentine's was actually really special. I was also surprised by the people who came by with Valentines for us.

My mother-in-law, my mom, my grandma, neighbors two doors down, and my brother-in-law all came. I never expected so many Valentines!

Even though my hubby left for work at 6:15am and didn't get home until 8:30pm, his thoughtful gestures for me and his patience with me made appreciate him all the more.

You're right. I hate to admit it. Next year, I'll do better. It will be a step in the right direction if I just don't dread it.

Ritsumei said...

Thanks for posting this - it's really very inspiring. I'd never thought about a more generalized love than just romantic love. I've never been a V-day hater, but this concept turns it into a very cool opportunity for service!

YogaNana said...

AFAIK, your Mom is still in San Fancisco.

Jenna said...

Mom? Huh? Your internet lingo is way more advanced than mine...

YogaNana said...

Ah, there must be more than one *Jenna* here. :o)

AFAIK=As Far As I Know

I was a little stunned to read that *your mom* had dropped by, to say nothing of *your grandmother* -- evidently a comment by another Jenna. :o)

junglemama said...

What an inspiring post. Happy Valentine's Day.

Laurie said...

I needed you to post this a couple days before Valentine's Day. I went to the store to get Valentine's for my daughters class and I was so disgusted at what I had to choose from and all the money being spent on gifts and candy and I left the store with a small bag of suckers and some Valentine bags to put them in. I protested the commercial side of Valentine's Day but in I also forgot to remember the Love part. I spent the rest of the weekend trying to make up for it to my children but I should have gotten it right the first time. I love to feel loved and that is what I will pass on next year for sure but you have inspired me to want to do that more regularly. I need to show love to those I come into contact with on a more regular basis. I'm glad that you had a great Valentine's day! If anyone has deserves good things, it's definately you! Thanks for sharing pieces of your story. I'm sending you a hug! You are an amazing person! Thanks for your cyber friendship!

Angela said...

Love this post! I agree it is a great time to tell my friends and family how much I love and care for them. I hate to admit this year I fell short. Next year!