An Odd Valentine's Tradition

I think of Valentine’s day very differently than most my friends. For a lot of people Valentine’s Day is a day of looming anxiety or expectation. A day of pitfalls or disappointments. A yearly reminder of a missed mark or goal, whether you are in a romantic relationship or not.

But for me Valentine’s day isn’t romantic. For me, weirdly, Valentine’s day has always made me think of my Dad.

Because Valentine’s day was the day my Dad surprised my sister and I, often in the most commonplace way, with love. My sister and I were raised by a single father, and not a particularly sensitive father. As a family we aren’t much for birthdays or gifts, and we are even less for mushy acts. It isn’t our thing.

But Valentine’s was the day my Dad went against those family normalities. For that reason I remember Valentine’s day growing up, not only better than I remember most of my birthdays, but a lot more positively than many folks.

Valentine’s day was the day I got my first boombox. I was maybe 12. It had that paint that changed color in the light. It was portable and I could play CDs and listen to the radio -though I would eventually accidentally snap the antenna. One Valentine’s Day in college, my Dad sent me a care package that not only had my favorite peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s, but even more importantly a huge thing of paper towels because he knew they were a luxury my roommates and I pined after, but generally didn’t allow ourselves.

Last year, Valentine’s was the day that my Dad surprised me with a package sent across the Atlantic Ocean. A fondue kit with all the fixings that I could use with my friends. I wasn’t used to February being “winter” and I was living in a new place thousands of miles from my people.

I am so grateful for this association with Valentine’s day that my Dad gave me. I don’t look towards this day with romantic expectations and hopes, not even hopes of something from my father. Each time it’s a random act of thoughtfulness and kindness he gives me, and bewilderingly, my Dad has never asked or received anything from my sister or I in return. He gave without thought of that.

I hope my Dad’s story inspires you this Valentine’s to give love, in ways that are both commonplace and out of the ordinary. Maybe not to partner but to a family member, friend, coworker or neighbor, as he has certainly inspired me.

How can YOU get involved? SIMPLE!

Step#1: Change your mindset. Drop your expectations of others or a negative association you may have with this day. Think up some ideas that excite you about what you can do to make others feel loved this Valentine's Day.

Step #2: Change someone else's Valentine's Day. Put a rose in your mailbox for the mail-person. Take your grandpa to the movies or out for ice cream. Fill your friends car up with gas, or do whatever chore they hate doing.

Step #3: Change someone else's mindset. Share this article with them or share the idea. & Happy Valentine's Day to you! ♥️