Hello! Happy Valentine’s Day! This post originally appeared here on February 15, 2010. I have added a few notes from today at the bottom.
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I have never fully embraced Valentine’s Day.
When I was single, the day and everything leading up to it, seemed to focus on what I lacked, and I found myself resenting the Hallmark-fueled mandatory expressions of romance.
When John and I met, he was equally ambivalent about Valentine’s Day, preferring to focus his attention on what he felt was a sorely-underrated holiday: Groundhog’s Day.
And so as our relationship unfolded we happily exchanged cards and small gifts on Groundhog’s Day, and then privately snickered as everyone else paid ridiculously inflated prices for flowers and chocolates two weeks later.
But then something happened.
Two beautiful little people came into our world, seemingly on a mission to teach us to see love and beauty everywhere.
Last week as my children made simple, handmade Valentines for their classmates and teachers, I felt my heart soften and embrace the sweetness of what this holiday was — long before it was Mylar balloons, and singing cards, and chocolates wrapped in plastic.
And then yesterday, at our UU church, as if the service was designed just for me, our minister invited us to re-image Valentine’s day while speaking of the power of love to heal our world.
While I was upstairs singing (I recently re-joined the choir after a 4+ year break — yay!) and enjoying this inspiring service, John and the kids were downstairs in the RE classrooms making signs to express what love and peace and equality mean to them.
At the end of our service they paraded into the sanctuary carrying their signs and invited us all to join them by marching about a mile from our church to the center of town for a Standing on the Side of Love rally.
While we marched I asked Lily what the rally was all about.
“It’s about spreading love, Mama. And brightening people’s days. And being kind to each other. That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.”
And this is how on a cold, February day, as I stood on the side of the road with my children and more than 80 members of our beautiful spiritual community, smiling and waving our signs as passerbys honked and cheered for equal rights and equal marriage and peace, I came to know and love and joyfully celebrate the true spirit of Valentine’s Day.
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February 14, 2011: What a shift it has been to redefine Valentine’s day in this much more expansive and inclusive way! John and I continue to forgo Hallmark cards, gifts, flowers, or fancy dinners. (Phew. Total relief all around.) The kids continue to inspire us with their sweet homemade (glitter-glue covered) expressions of love. And our spiritual community continues to hold space (quite exuberantly so!) for Equal Rights and Equal Marriage on this love-filled holiday!
This weekend I sat at a coffee shop and listened as a beautiful young couple shared their vision for their upcoming wedding ceremony with me and told tag-team stories of how they met and came together as a couple. After they left I sat there for a few minutes soaking it all in. What a joy it is to share my gifts in this way and to be a part of two people intentionally interweaving their lives, their friends and their families.
How wonderful it will be when marriage is fully accessible to all loving couples everywhere!