By Tabatha McIntyre
On February 14th of 2022, our family was sitting around the table with a stack of envelopes in front of us. There are six of us, so each person had 5 Valentine cards waiting to be opened. I don’t think a single person at that table could have expected what came next.
We were 6 months into being a blended family and thankfully from pretty much the word go, since before our integration day, we had been working hard to make The Vortex Six, as we affectionately refer to ourselves, a family. This is a monumental undertaking as anyone who has or is a part of a blended family can attest. There were plenty of ups and downs, an abundance of laughs and tears, and a true commitment from all of us to make it work smoothly and authentically. We had already celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas quite successfully, but I was not sure how into Valentine’s we could get just yet.
I had always been a fan of the idea of Valentine’s Day because I am a hopeless romantic, but it seemed like nobody around me felt the same, so Valentine’s Day got downplayed in my mind so as not to be disappointed by the lack of celebration. But 2022 was different, I was in a new season, with the love of my life. My husband, Chad, had also never experienced Valentine’s Day as being very important, but we decided to leave ourselves open to the possibility that we could all rise to the occasion. I wanted to make it special for everyone, so I bought decorations and the supplies to make homemade valentines.
The Sunday before Valentine’s Day, we suggested they all take a few quiet moments and work on their cards. Within a few minutes, they were all sitting around the dining room table and living room diligently focusing on their cards. Valentine’s Day came with an unexpected excitement from everyone, an anticipation that felt palpable. That evening the kids walked into the house and marveled at the balloons, the decorations, the table bursting full of cards, and little presents for each of them. We had dinner, enjoyed donuts and took photos of everyone under our “kissing booth” sign. Yet it was clear the highlight everyone was looking forward to was the exchanging of cards.
We sat around the table and opened them up like we do Christmas presents. Slowly, youngest to oldest, we opened and read them out loud. The love and thoughtfulness that was in each card shocked everyone and had 3 out of the 6 of us crying. It was a moment, a memory everyone still looks back on and cherishes, and looks back on as a pivotal experience that connected our hearts and made us feel like a family. We now have a special Valentine’s tradition that everyone looks forward to. It would have been so easy to let all the years of disappointment around this holiday take over my hope, but no matter how many people posted that they were canceling Valentine’s Day, I thought it still represents a beautiful opportunity to intentionally shower those you love most with celebration and affection. I do not mean to hyperbolize, but celebrating Valentine’s Day changed our family’s life.
It is because of this experience that I was sad to get on Facebook the past couple of years on Valentine’s Day and see so many more posts about people wanting to “cancel” Valentine’s Day than anything positive about it. I do understand, though. I have been disappointed by this day and fallen under the weight of its heavy expectations. Much like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, V-day can feel more like D-day. Holidays like this can make you feel isolated when everyone is celebrating, and you are not. They can stir up feelings of insecurity or discontent. I get it, been there, done that. I can also see the points of those who preach that we should be fostering meaningful and loving relationships on a daily basis and not just buying an obligatory card and box of chocolates because it is what everyone does. Absolutely, 100% on point. It is not only important, it is essential for any thriving relationship to put in intentional and consistent effort and show love every. single. day.
However, I think that we can get lost in cynicism and honestly, as cliche as it sounds, is not every day we have a gift? Not to mention the gift of love? I think we all would benefit from extravagant celebrations every chance we get.
So, from one hopeless romantic to all reading, maybe do not cancel Valentine’s Day? Maybe love your people fiercely everyday and celebrate a little extra on February 14th. Whether you are married, in a relationship, or single, write a love note to your person or to yourself, your kids, friends, or family. Take the day and intentionally think of where we would all be in the world without the precious gift of love. Commercialized or not, love is worth celebrating!! There are three things said to remain after all has passed away…faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. Who knows? Maybe Valentine’s might become your new favorite holiday.