Are You My Valentine?

February has a giant sore thumb in its middle called Valentine’s Day. Since the month is oddly short, it possibly has a Napoleonic complex and makes up for it with a mammoth Hallmark-appropriated holiday that screams love while poking at our inside organs of guilt and insecurity. Shop for a Valentine’s Day card and let the poking begin. Forget just buying a card for your significant other, you can buy one for your friend, your kid, your postal carrier, and yes, even your pet. Do you really want a card from your dog that reads, “I can’t keep my paws off you?” Or one from your cat that says, “I love you?” On second thought, buy that one, because with cats we’re never quite sure. But the point is, just who is my Valentine? And won’t it be awkward the rest of the year if I give one to my mailman?

Not everyone is torn up by this proliferation of Valentines. The Greeting Card Association is over the moon about it as an estimated one billion are sent each year. At conservatively four dollars a pop, do the math and see the reason for their glee. According to them, women buy about 85 percent of these cards, which coincidentally is the same percentage of women who do the lion’s share of housework, so says the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. I suggest the least we women can do is stop buying superfluous Valentines.

Or, maybe, cards aren’t the problem. Some say the origins of Valentine’s Day came from church efforts to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival that celebrated the ides of February. Part of its festivities included sacrificing a goat, whereafter the strips of goat hide were dipped in blood and then taken to the streets to slap women as a blessing of sorts. Cards are looking better, aren’t they? But still, who do we give them to?

This is a great problem to have, after all, we are fortunate to count many relationships among our blessings. Perhaps the better word would be relation-fleet to capture their sheer number. There’s family, a tree encompassing spouses, parents, children, siblings, cousins, and more. Then there’s friends, an entire armada on its own. From multipurpose friends who together we do happy hour, jobs, work-outs, and life, to share-everything, no-detail-is-too-small, arterial friends. You know the ones; they remember to hold our hands when we forget we even have them. These are often our core bonds. Don’t they deserve a Valentine?

My one-stop-shopping answer is yes. Why not? Now, don’t put down the paper and run out to buy a card for your bestie that reads, “I love you as much as my elastic-waist sweatpants.” It is the card itself that screws everything up. That and all the excess trappings from chocolates to lingerie; although I do advise skipping the lingerie for the mailman.

What if we do a card-ectomy and make Valentine’s Day a reason to reach out to our entire relationfleet. To say, in person, or via email, a text, or a phone call, “Hi, you matter.” No need to do it all on the 14th. Spread it out, one person a day, every day, for the rest of the year. If you start on Valentine’s Day, that yields 321 people to acknowledge. And what if that number is way more than all your “peeps” combined? Well, that’s the exciting part. It creates the enviable task of sharing that acknowledgment with unknown souls we see every day. The young woman running the register at the gas station, the grouchy guy at the box store who forgot what customer service is, or the person on the other end of the phone who can’t answer your simple question - let’s leave the remainder of our “Hi, you matters” to them. Admittedly, it’s not quite the same as whacking someone with a bloody hide, but, I guarantee, it’s more rewarding.