Valentine’s Day keeps evolving

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As I wrote out the date “February 14” a number of times of the past week, once being on the cover of this issue of the St. Paul Journal, I got to thinking back to how Valentine’s Day has a way of evolving and changing, as people evolve and change over their lifetime.

As a child, Valentine’s Day had a certain innocence about it. I distinctly remember making heart-shaped pouches that would hold approximately however many kids were in my elementary class, plus a few extras. It was exciting to go through that pouch, open up the sealed envelopes, and inspect each of the small cards.

Having two boys of my own, I’m pretty sure the excitement of Valentine’s Day is a little lost on them. It’s still a fun day, spent with friends, but they likely are much more excited about the candy and chocolate that often comes home with the cards, rather than the cards themselves.

And yes, just like many holidays and celebrations, Valentine’s Day has been over commercialized. But done right, I think the day can hold meaning, and offer a families, couples, and even friends, a moment to slow down, enjoy a nice meal, and appreciate what is in front of us.

As a teenager, the somewhat ugly side of Valentine’s Day tends to rear its head. It’s easy to feel left out or lonely when others are feeling showered in attention and affection. And Valentine’s Day can amplify those negative feelings. But it can also give young people an opportunity to do good, to show they care, and remind others that they are not alone.

I don’t believe that Valentine’s Day has to be about love in the traditional sense, although it clearly is founded in that idea. Love comes in so many forms, and I see no wrong in celebrating love, for all it’s worth.

I think my most memorable Valentine’s Day came as a teenager, when my now-husband and I started dating. He surprised me with tickets to a concert, flowers, and more. Fourteen years later, I am pretty sure he won’t be making a huge effort like that any time soon, and that’s not a bad thing.

Given that we’ve been together for well over a decade now, our relationship has changed, and it’s just as meaningful (and important in our day-to-day living) that we do smaller acts, like clean up and make supper, and offer support in other ways (that thankfully don’t involve breaking the bank).

Our kids are now often the focus of our Valentine’s Day celebrations. Right now, the day gives us another chance to spend a little extra time together as a family.

I’m sure in a few years, as our boys get into those awkward teenage years, our focus on Valentine’s Day will once again shift. Maybe we will revert back to concerts, flowers, and dates for a while, until yet another stage of life comes along and shifts the focus elsewhere.

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