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Loving the Day of Love

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Feb. 10, 2015
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A fond memory from the seventh and eighth grade was a Valentine’s Day tradition introduced by my English teacher. In January, she would hand us 27 square papers with hearts on them. Our mission was to write a compliment to each member of our class. On Valentine’s Day itself, there would be 27 colored envelopes attached to the chalkboard with our names on them, and we would deliver the heart-shaped compliments to each mailbox, as James Taylor’s words floated through the air: “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way you feel.” I’m not sure how many people can say this, but I loved Valentine’s Day in junior high.

Often unbelovedly known as “Singles Awareness Day,” Valentine’s Day can get a bad rap for its gushy Hallmark cards, its cheesy boxes of chocolate, and its focus on having a significant other. 

But looking back at those Valentine compliments, I think there’s another aspect of Valentine’s Day that needs to be uncovered.

First of all, there’s St. Valentine, for whom the day is named, a priest and a martyr who lived during the time of the early Church when it was dangerous to be a Christian. Though risky, he helped Christians and even presided over the marriages of Christian couples. He was arrested and later beheaded. It is said that before he died, he restored sight to the jailor’s blind daughter. In Valentine’s life, we find acts of love.

And that’s the key: love. I think Valentine’s Day can be a meaningful day for all people at whatever state in life (be it single, dating, or married) if we broaden our definition of love from just romantic to what the Greeks would call “philia” love.

This kind of love is rooted in friendship; this is a kind of love we all can practice.

Make this Valentine’s Day different from past years and do something that shows others you care. It can be simple—calling a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile, writing little notes on handmade cards, or simply getting together with friends and enjoying their company. If you happen to be someone who feels lonely or sad on Valentine’s Day because of the lack of a significant other, why not make all your friends “significant others”—because that’s truly what they are. Significant.

February 14th will find me with some wonderfully significant friends I know, having a Valentine’s themed slumber party and playing an awesome game of love letters (game rules below). I can’t wait to be in their company, to laugh, and to hear about what’s going on with them.

I think my English teacher taught me a valuable lesson in junior high with those valentines. I think she wanted my classmates and me to realize that love is a calling that every single person on this earth has been given. That with a single compliment, we could share love with our peers (a feat in the junior high!) and make them feel valued. I have those cards to this day. Now it’s my job to turn that love outward again - “to shower people with love.”



Rules for the Game of Love Letters

You’ll need:

Lined paper, pens, and people-the more the merrier.

Everyone gets a piece of paper and a pen. Set a timer for one minute. When the clock starts, everyone begins writing a love (or break-up) letter. When the timer stops, fold the paper over, covering everything but the last line of what you’ve written, and pass your letter to the left. The next writer continues the letter in his/her own style. Continue to pass to the left until you’ve gotten your letter back. Finally, read the letters!

With hilarious twists and turns, you’ll see your sappy love letter turn into a break-up rant, and then back into a love letter. This game makes me laugh so much. Enjoy!