By a show of hands, who has ever felt a little more lonely as Valentineâ€™s Day approaches because there is no someone special in your life who will remember you on that day? My hand is up, because I spent a decade being single. I know, it shouldnâ€™t be a big deal, but somehow it isâ€”especially for women. We can blame the card/flower/candy/jewelry industries all we like, but thatâ€™s not going to help anybody.
What does help is to flip our traditional thinking and ask: What can I do to show love to others on Valentineâ€™s Day? The following three suggestions focus on giving, rather than receiving, and will brighten the receiverâ€™s day, and (spoiler alert) bring a glow of happiness to you too.
My first suggestion is to make a list of friends who are single. You may even want to include those caring for a spouseâ€”who might not get a valentine this year. Send them a card. You donâ€™t need to spend a lot of money, because there are places where the cards are 50 cents, and even better, make one. Send the card early, so the person receiving it will be able to enjoy it and feel loved ahead of time.
The second suggestion is fun for you and others. One year, I bought myself a big bouquet of red roses a day or so before Valentineâ€™s Day. I enjoyed their beauty, and then on February 14th, I walked around my neighborhood, knocked on every door and gave one flower to each woman of the household. Iâ€™ll always remember the surprised look, mixed with gratitude at receiving a flower. If you try this suggestion, you could pass roses out at work, at the park, or wherever you find yourself that day. Itâ€™s great fun to bring a tangible and unexpected expression of happiness to others.
The last suggestion is a two part assignment you can give yourself, your students or young children. The challenge is to give a valentine and/or a small gift to one person they know who does not have a romantic partner or spouse. Setting a reward (prize, gift, extra credit for students) helps motivate them to follow through. The next part is to â€œreportâ€ on what they did, what happened, what they learned, and most importantly, how it made them feel. In my community college human relations classes, this was always an assignment. The reports of grateful recipients were always heartwarming. Common words were: surprise, tears, joy, and appreciation. As a teacher, my goal was to give the students a concrete experience in the biblical principle that it is better to give than receive.
So if youâ€™re wondering what is COMING TO YOU this Valentineâ€™s Day, squash that thought and plan what you can GIVE. The power of giving has a way of opening the heart like no amount of receiving can do. And what better day to take action!
Happy Hearts Day!