Thursday, February 14, 2008

The loneliest day of the year...or not

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! For married couples and people busy falling in love, this is the day of the year to celebrate those wonderful feelings that connect you to another person. Cupid's darts are flying all over the place.

But what if you're not in the path of one of those darts? What if you've lost your spouse? Or just gone through a divorce? Or at the moment are simply happily single? What on earth are you supposed to do on this day that celebrates love?

Some people, I suspect, simply buy a box of chocolates and hide out at home with a good book. Others manage to find a party of other singles to attend. Some simply pretend it's like any other day of the year, no big deal, no special meaning. But when I read Peanuts this morning, there was poor old Charlie Brown watching the mailman come with such hope. His face was one we've seen a million times, looking sad and so darn alone as the mailman kept right on going without leaving one single Valentine behind. It made me think.

So, this morning before heading out the door, I gathered up my stash of Dove dark chocolate hearts and took them with me to the place I go every morning for breakfast. I doled those red and gold wrapped candies out to everyone around . . . the mechanic from the corner gas station, another guy whose name and job I don't know, the cashier at the restaurant, the cook and two of her friends, the waitresses, my regular morning dining companion and several other friends who appeared before I ran out. I discovered something, not just that it was better to give than to receive, but that everyone enjoys a little reminder that someone's thinking of them on this day. None of these people are the loves of my life. Some I barely know. Yet every one of them grinned and tucked that chocolate away. And for me, Valentine's Day turned into something special, a chance to remind the people around me that I enjoy their company, appreciate their service.

It reminded me, too, that not all love is the romantic kind. And why shouldn't we celebrate that, too? Why shouldn't this day be a time to tell our friends and family we care, even as we spend extra time and attention on that one special someone? And all it took to make someone's day a little brighter was a bag of chocolates and saying, "Happy Valentine's Day."

If you'd like to share your Valentine's Day traditions or tell us why this day was very special or impossibly hard for you, click on comments below and fill us in. If you got engaged on Valentine's Day, share that memory with us. We'd love to hear it.

Meantime, I wish you all a taste of chocolate and a whole lot of love.

Sherryl Woods

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