My first Valentine was my dad. Louis LoBue always made sure I had a heart-shaped box of chocolates accompanied by a gushy love note that never failed to make me smile. I am a sucker for Snoopy, Scooby Doo and just about any other sappy cartoon character plastered on a three-by-four inch card with a corny saying. Nothing melts my heart like Buggs Bunny in a rocket, with a thought bubble above him saying, Valentine, you take me to the moon! I guess I don’t see the harm in a day set aside to express love in silly ways.
But when I was a teenager, things started to change, and it really was a shame. If you didn’t have a date to the Valentine’s Sadie Hawkins Dance, it was a tragedy. If you didn’t get a carnation and conversation hearts from someone dreamy, you were a social disaster … your life was over. Over! Now I have some friends who even deactivate their Facebook accounts for the entire week surrounding this day of love. How did we take a holiday devoted to the sweetest human emotion and turn it into a measurement of one’s romantic success?
Love is so many awesome things. The greatest loves I have ever witnessed or experienced were much deeper than any of the mush people seem to think they need in their lives in order to be “normal” adults. Who started this whole thing? Who says that the only love that really matters comes from some person who makes your palms sweaty? Love is love. I don’t want to break my husband’s heart, but my favorite Valentines have four legs, floppy ears and bad breath. Not one of them has given me chocolate, a flower or a card. One of them brought me a dead bird once. In terms of socially acceptable Valentines, that was so not cool.
What I love best about February 14 is making stupid little cards, dropping them on the desks of co-workers and seeing the smiles on their faces when they read the dopey messages inside. I feel like a kid in my fourth grade classroom, with my shoebox covered in construction-paper hearts.
Call me a sell-out, a joiner, a kook. I will always think love is something to celebrate, no matter whose name is at the bottom of a card in a little white envelope with Sylvester and Tweety, sitting on a heart-shaped swing, celebrating a truce for the day.
Happy Valentine’s Day. If no one has told you they love you … I do. ♦