AlexaStauffer_picI remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school. You would spend the entire week getting ready for the class party. You were challenged to make the coolest themed mailbox, pick the favorite treat, and have the trendiest valentines. I remember studying each card that came in the package making sure I didn’t give flirty ones to the wrong people causing them to get the “wrong message.” I got so stressed over it one year, my mom started designing generic ones for me that had my school picture and “Happy Hearts Day” typed on it along with a cute heart-themed border.

I also remember my fifth grade Valentine’s Day party. It was the year that not only my best friends were in the same class as me, but also my biggest crush. The teacher had music playing, and my friends and I were acting cool, eating snacks, and casually dancing to our favorite songs. I remember when a slower song came on, I desperately wanted the boy to ask me to dance. I even wore my favorite outfit to school in hopes to catch his eye. It never happened, and I had convinced myself it was the worst Valentine’s Day…EVER.

I was in fifth grade at that time. By the time I was ten years old, society had already altered my perception of Valentine’s Day. What I failed to remember, was the beautiful envelope with my name intricately doodled on it, the paper-folded box with different shades of red and pink hearts embellished on it and stuffed with candy, and the darling Valentine’s Day-themed stuffed animal next to it.

Every year my mother would write my three siblings and I letters about why she loved us. She gave us small gifts of candy and a dinky little stuffed animal that usually got stuffed somewhere never to be seen again. But the love poured out in the letters about why we were blessings in her life and how we make an impact to the world was better than any gift she could have bought us.bear

The year I realized I didn’t need romance for my Valentine’s Day was my junior year of high school. It took me seventeen years of wishing a boy would:

  • treasure me
  • buy me all the chocolate
  • dine me at a fancy restaurant
  • shower me with flowers
  • and make all the other girls jealous,

to realize that I had all the love I needed. I had all of it from my mother. The bear I got from my mother that year still sits on my bedside as a daily reminder of the unconditional love my mom has always given me. The same unconditional love God has for me.

cheerSt. Valentine is the Patron Saint of Lovers. The Feast Day of Saint Valentine was dedicated to him in honor of his genuine sacrifice of love for God. Today, we celebrate this day to romantically appreciate our significant others. Society has found a way to make it seem like some huge competition of who loves their boyfriend or girlfriend more by how much money they spend on gifts, the size of teddy bears, or what kind of date you go on. My question is: Why do we focus so much on romance?

There are all sorts of love we experience in our lives. We experience love in a romantic way, but we also experience love from our family members, friends, mentors/role models, and one of my favorites: pets! This Valentine’s Day, embrace the single life. Let us stand united and love whole-heartedly. Write your parents a letter of appreciation. Buy a candy bar with a cute message for your best friend and make them feel loved. Give your dog a loving belly rub. Do a random act of kindness. Spread the love. Be love.