Most fairy tales begin with "once upon a time," but this is no fairy tale, unless you consider the idea behind it.
As a child I looked forward to Valentine's Day, not for the cards I would get but because I would be able to spend time picking out just the right card for the people in my class I liked. I had very few enemies, and they all disappeared on Valentine's Day when I spread out all the cards my parents and I bought and matched them up with the names on the class list. Each card had to say what I wanted to say to that person, even if it was only "happy Valentine's Day."
Married and dating, Valentine's days were different. I turned my attention to the person I was with at the time and made that person's day special. I hoped I would get something nice in return, but that seldom worked out past the first flush of infatuation or love. Men don't do Valentine's Day well or do it with a chip on their shoulders because they're not too comfortable with being thoughtful and loving, not unless thoughtful and loving comes with car parts and maintenance or mumbling, "Happy Valentine's Day."
I should say here that my taste in men is questionable. I've not been with a thoughtful man with a wide range of emotions, choosing instead men whose emotions were a limited multiple choice of no emotion to rage in about 20 seconds with an occasional deep well of happy that usually went along with seeing naked women in magazines or a cherry 1955 hard top convertible T-bird. But I digress.
For me, Valentine's Day is more about showing the people I care about how much I love and appreciate them. In fact, I had to take my valentines to the post office in a canvas bag to make sure I didn't forget or lose one along the way. Some of the valentines I sent were bulky and had charms and plastic/glass jewels and doodads on them. Each has a special meaning to me and, I hope, for the person who will receive it.
I do most holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries the same, taking time to make or buy something special for each person on my list, starting well ahead of the appointed day to make sure that I get everything done and get the right card, the best gift to send so it arrives on time.
Psych 101 students and probably a few psychiatrists and psychologists would say that my actions are those of someone who has been abused or tries to compensate for some inadequacy or lack in my life. It's no mystery. Not really. It's about showing people how special they are in your life. My fortunes determine the expense of the gift, but expense to me is just numbers. I buy or make what I can afford and never count the cost. The gift and the sentiment matter to me much more.
If Valentine's Day is all about someone showing how much you are loved, why not turn it around and make it about how much you love? Give your children a box of cards and a class list and help them choose which card to give to which kid in their classes -- even if the kid has been mean or arrogant or indifferent. Everyone appreciates a card and a smile, even if the smile is a tentative one.
No love in your life? Think of yourself. Go to your favorite restaurant, splash out a little, and treat yourself to chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better. Love yourself even though it seems no one loves you. Buy or make cards for your friends. Send them an e-card; those are usually free. Make a little gift or bread or cupcakes or whatever you do best and give them to friends and family or take them to a nursing home and share with those who are forgotten in the rush to buy chocolate and flowers and the usual Valentine's Day doodads and share Valentine's Day with them. Their smiles have a magic that will help you forget that your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend or whoever forgot you -- or decided that an oil change or new power tool was the best way to celebrate this day of love.
Valentine's Day is not only about finding out how much someone loves you but how much you love.
I will not get any valentines from anyone. I've been single and unattached for a very long time. There are a lot of people I love and they will all find out how much when they go to the mailbox and get my sappy and silly cards. The same goes for my birthday, which is Sunday, February 17th. I will be momentarily sad, but it will pass. My granddaughter Sierra will be 3 on the 24th and I am putting together her birthday gift. I already bought the card and it has been signed and sealed and stamped and waits for the right time to send it so that it will arrive close to, if not on, her birthday.
Celebrate the love on Valentine's Day and include yourself if no one else remembers you. Somehow the smile and warmth will infect you and you will have a very happy Valentine's Day, too.