Family & Education

Valentine’s Day: Those Hearts Belong to All of Us

BY Jeff Minick TIMEFebruary 11, 2022 PRINT

Valentine’s Day is just around the bend.

For many people in the 18- to 45-year-old crew, this holiday can bring everything from a big smile to a case of the hives. Some guys—I’m afraid I’ve never belonged to this club—do the holiday up right, planning a candlelight supper at a fancy restaurant or having a dozen roses delivered along with a song to the workplace of their beloved. I tip my hat to all of you romantic gentlemen.

Others are those men you see in your local grocery store at 5 p.m. on Feb. 14, a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a card in the other, shamefacedly avoiding the other six guys standing in the checkout line clutching these same tokens of love. I’ve been there and done that—ugh on me.

And then there are the many men and women who will spend Valentine’s Day by themselves. They’ll pass by those displays of candies and cards in the stores knowing that those gifts won’t be theirs. For them, there’s no shared bottle of red wine, no special chocolates, and no meals and lifted glasses in a neighborhood café. For them, Valentine’s Day is no celebration and may even be a day of regret and sadness. I’ve been there and done that too.

Maybe it’s time we broadened our definition of this ancient holiday. Maybe we should go back to those standards of elementary school days that some of us remember, when the whole class got those miniature candy hearts with their silly, short messages of love. Maybe we can make this day into a festival of affections.

We can keep the special gestures—the flowers, the cards, the notes of affection, and so forth—for those especially close to us. But we might also consider others we love, those who play a special part in our lives, or our neighbors and acquaintances who are alone, and include them in this circle of love. It’s the perfect opportunity to tell them how much they mean to us, the perfect moment to assure them that they matter in this world. If nothing else, we can present them with some small token of our affections on this special day.

We might gift the boss with flowers, or the boss might drop a few chocolates on each employee’s desk. We might tuck a Valentine’s Day card under the door of our elderly neighbor or bring some pastries to the lonely woman who lives next door. We might call some relative we’ve neglected and wish them well.

In my case, I plan on buying some treats and taking them to the staff at my favorite coffee shop and to the clerks and cooks at the little convenience store near my house to show my appreciation for these folks.

Or maybe some of you who are more energetic should go for broke this time around. Another name for Feb. 14 is “the Feast of Saint Valentine,” so why not make it so? Throw a party. Invite your relatives, friends, and neighbors—couples and singles, young and old. Make it “bring your own beer” and a potluck as part of the bargain. Crank up some music and play some goofy games. If nothing else, these festivities proclaim to the world that life is sweet and still worth celebrating.

Hey, it beats sitting at home alone and watching “Sleepless in Seattle” for the umpteenth time.

Valentine’s Day is a day for sometimes sappy gifts and sometimes sloppy sentiments. Right now, after the last couple of years of the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters, maybe those sappy gifts and sloppy sentiments are the real booster shots we Americans need this Feb. 14.

A final point to bear in mind, not just for lovers, but for everyone—parents, friends, everyone:

“Roses are fine, and chocolate too,

But the best Valentine’s Day gift is you.”

Let’s celebrate by connecting with those around us.

Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.
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