Sunday, February 7, 2016

In Defense of Valentine's Day

          If ever a holiday needed a champion, it's Valentine's Day. I'm not sure where the disdain for this poor holiday originated, perhaps with a disgruntled spouse or a bitter single person, but whatever the case, I feel compelled to rise to the defense of one of my personal favorite holidays (besides my birthday, that is).

                I have discussed with quite a few people their reasons for hating on a holiday that really has done them no wrong. My husband long ago told me that he thinks it is ridiculous that there is yet another day when men must buy women gifts and flowers and the women do not have to return the favor. (The other days, in case you are wondering, are their birthdays and wedding anniversaries.) Friends have echoed the internet and said, "It's a Hallmark holiday, invented to force you to buy expensive cards and overpriced knick knacks." And we've all seen the shows on television where the single friends band together to boycott the date because it is supposedly all about romance and couples.

      However, for me, it is one of the best holidays there is. And, no, it isn't just because of the chocolate (although I *do* adore a box of Russell Stover's, dark only, please!). My birthday is a few days before, and maybe that casts a warm glow on it, but I think it started in grade school. I loved getting a box full of tiny paper squares, all with my name on them. The cheesy puns and cheap suckers with their faded white proclamations of love and friendship somehow seemed like they were just for me. I loved reading every single silly conversation heart (But I promise, they never crossed my lips if I could prohibit it-gross!). Even once we started homeschooling, my siblings and I would exchange little cards and trinkets.

    Personally, V-Day has never been about silky underthings and expensive jewelry. I've done candles and scattered rose petals and homemade dinners. But that is because I *love* my husband and want to show him how special he is to me. I would rather he give me a necklace from Forever 21 than Kay's, though. Because this isn't an opportunity to milk my spouse for jewerly store baubles and overpriced flowers, it is about love. And that isn't just about romance.

      That's why we more often share a heart shaped pizza with our kids than a reservation for two at a nice restaurant. It's why I spend hours writing handwritten notes to my friends, and in past years have made literally hundreds of Valentines, in all shapes and sizes for anyone and everyone from Sunday School teachers to the women in my Bible study. We give Valentines to ice skating instructors, and the neighbors, to our cousins and to our grandparents. It isn't just a day for lovers, it is a day for love.

     And maybe it isn't like that for you, but you get to turn that around. Buy flowers for someone, instead of waiting for some for yourself. Gift the chocolates you hope to receive. I handmade almost 200 chocolates for a Valentine's dinner at our church this year that included young and old, single and coupled. No one felt left out, and that is great. Because none of us deserve love, but it is something everyone needs.

    Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with fancy meals, and dressing up, flowers and sappy cards are fine, too. You can even request diamond necklaces or rings, if that's your thing. But maybe the problem isn't Valentine's Day, it's you. Everyone could use more opportunities to say, "I love you"- to everyone who is special in their lives. And not only that, but there are plenty more people who need to hear it, because they don't think anyone thinks they are special.

   Maybe you do that every day of the year-then why stop on Valentine's Day? Maybe you never do it-then February 14th is a good time to start.

"Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and anyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for GOD IS LOVE." 1 John 4:7-8 KJV

     If nothing else, use that day as a jumping off point to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Single people feeling unloved? You need Jesus. Couples who aren't getting along and romance is the furthest thing from your mind? You need Jesus. Kids who don't really understand why you can't stand in the stationary section and read all the inappropriate cards? You need  Jesus, too.

    Don't let the card and candy people dictate your behavior. Write your own cards-people like that better anyway. Skip the red-foiled chocolates and sugar hearts. Buy a bag of pretzels for all anyone cares. But for pity's sake-don't let "them" steal a chance to tell those that matter what they really mean to you. You get to make Valentine's Day whatever you want it to be, and I say, if a holiday is about love then isn't it really something we as believers should be using to our advantage? I mean, Jesus is love. Celebrate with your kids, and your neighbors, and the people at your church. Find someone who really needs a pick-me-up and give *them* the sweets and flowers. But don't let the world steal your joy. Take back this holiday and really make it about true love. For the love!

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