One of the best lessons I learned in elementary school was from a seemingly silly class project on Valentine’s Day. At the beginning of February, my first grade teacher had us all bring empty paper towel rolls and Kleenex boxes to school. Then there was a mass of creativity as we used the trash to design beautiful castles and space ships, using colorful tissue paper to give color to our cardboard turrets and rockets.
Each one was creative and unique. Then of course, on the big day, we would bring our favorite Valentine’s Day cards 8212; with various themes like Bugs Bunny or Disney princesses or Power Rangers 8212; and put them in the Valentine’s Day masterpieces of each of our classmates.
Obviously, none of us had boyfriends or lovers 8212; we girls thought boys were icky, and the boys thought we were annoying as all get out. But that didn’t matter. Valentine’s Day was for wearing pink and exchanging notes and eating candy with friends. Romance? Heartache? There was no such thing.
But this is not the case anymore. Now Valentine’s Day seems to be centered around those perfect people in love, while the rest of us, with despairing hearts, are watching off to the side. Since when did Valentine’s Day become so elitist? No one says you have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, so you surely shouldn’t have to be in love to celebrate Valentine’s Day either.
According to Time Magazine’s NewsFeed website, the Iranian government has banned all promotion of Valentine’s Day and its lovey-dovey merchandise to prevent the spread of Western culture. Some single Americans probably wish the U.S. would do the same and save us all some heartache.
I have even heard a few people talk about Singles Awareness Day , or reference its cheerful acronym SAD. Why on earth do we do this to ourselves? It’s a holiday for Pete’s sake 8212; for Valentine’s sake? 8212; and Merriam-Webster defines a holiday as “a day on which one is exempt from work.”
Now don’t get your hopes up. I don’t think the provost will go for this after our little snow day extravaganza. But notice that it does not say a holiday is “a celebration in which only a lucky few take part, while the others wallow in despair.”
True, Valentine’s Day can be genuinely hard on people, but its purpose isn’t to put them down or make them feel miserable about feeling miserable. People go through tough breakups or long periods of waiting for that special person. Sometimes it is simply unavoidable to feel a little sadness or loneliness, but it would be cutting yourself short to miss out on all the rest of what Valentine’s Day has to offer.
It is a day of celebrating love. Love now, in the past and in the future. You can decide what that love is, so celebrate it. Love on your family. Love on your friends. Buy those Transformers Valentine’s Day cards you know you want. Eat some chocolate, whether it’s Russell Stover or those elusive chocolate cookies in the BLUU. If you have a special someone, go ahead and do something special.
You don’t have to build a Valentine castle out of toilet paper rolls 8212; although that would be awesome 8212; to embrace this day for all it is. It might take a little creativity, just like in first grade, but I refuse to define this day as one only for those with a “significant other.” It’s for me, too. It’s for everybody.
Rachel Causey is a freshman English major from Monroe, La.