For readers and writers of romance, it’s one of the biggest days of the year. For people in happy, committed relationships, it’s a day to celebrate their union, and for hopeful lovers, a chance to woo the object of their affections. But for some among us, Valentine’s Day is best forgotten.
One example is my friend, Faye, whose husband of nearly fifty years died exactly thirteen months ago today. There’s also my friend, George, who has dated and hoped to find someone for more than twenty years, but has never had a partner. Around each of us, there are probably people who dread the approach of Valentine’s Day and sigh with relief when the calendar reaches February 15.
For them, I propose an expansion of the holiday. Why should the day be only for lovers? Can’t it become a day for any and all whom we love?
My husband began expanding his reach some years ago, including our daughter, Rebecca, as one of his valentines since her pre-teen years. When two daughters-in-law both lost their daddies, he added them to his list. Then two years ago, when my mother was widowed, he began sending her a small Valentine gift as well, usually the chocolate-covered strawberries she adores.
I’ve been trying to learn from him. Last year, when asked to organize a Valentine’s Day celebration for our congregation, I invited everyone—married, single, even little children—and made it a time for all of us to come to know one another better. The dinner was successful and I've been asked to repeat it this year.
I've floated this balloon once before via one of my favorite characters. Sarah, my heroine in Right Click, is dreading the coming celebration since the break-up of her engagement. To deal with her own loneliness, she proposes to relieve the loneliness of others, leading the third grade class she teaches in preparing care packages for soldiers deployed far from home.
I’m not suggesting that we forget the significance of the one sweetheart with whom we share our lives. I want my husband to know he is still The One for me. But as we approach the day of hearts and flowers, I’m hoping we can expand our circles of caring, reaching out to others. After all, love does not always equal romance, and no one should look forward with dread to a day that is all about love.