(moving away from expectations and into remembrance)

Where there is great love, there are always wishes.

Willa Cather

The “Galentines” craze has caught on—and no wonder. What girl wants to feel under-valued simply because the retail market needs a money-maker between Christmas and Easter? Valentine’s Day seems to be mostly a lot of hype, pressure, and expectations.

This little one-day holiday nestled between New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day grosses about $18 billion each year in revenue. Valentine’s Day has grown from a kindergarten Valentine exchange to a colossal yearly demonstration of love for the rest of time.

If you don’t have a romantic interest, you can opt for “Galentine’s Day, a night home alone, or you can always remember dear ol’ Mom. And apparently, a lot of people remember their pets–to the tune of $681 million per year. Because pets understand the significance of February 14.

If we celebrate anyone, I think Valentine’s Day should be about the ones who crave love the most—the kid without a parent, the parent without a spouse. The empty womb. The broken heart.

The lonely. The hurting. The grieving. The sick.

We all know these people. They live next door or in the local retirement home. They’re on the church prayer list. They’re sitting in chemo chairs and counting out cash for their groceries. They’re lying in a big bed that’s empty on one side. They’re home alone on Valentine’s Day.

Maybe they’re remembering better Valentine’s Days, when little kids brought home a paper sack full of cheap cards from their schoolmates and a big red construction heart for mom that said something sentimental like: “Yur the best mom in the wurld” or “you rock.” They hold memories from days when moms went to class parties with their homemade cut-out sugar cookies, and kids made mailboxes from paper plates to tape to their desks. Everyone read all the candy confectionary hearts in their mailboxes and giggled over “Cool Dude” and “My Girl.” And ate them, even though they taste terrible.

Maybe these people read Love You Forever  and Guess How Much I Love You to their children at night and cried big alligator tears. And when their kids pulled out the Valentine’s versions of Franklin, The Berenstain Bears, Arthur, Little Critter, and Give a Mouse…, they read more and more.

No one wants a loving moment to end.

Universal memories create universal connections to other people with similar memories. They give each of us the capacity to recognize and empathize with the universal void that losing love carves out in a soul.

Maybe instead of buying all the Valentines crap at the last minute today, each of us could just show up somewhere—just say “I love you” to someone who’s not expecting it? Just remember them, while they are remembering what used to be or what could have been.

Blessing someone else on Valentine’s Day just might make it a meaningful holiday after all.

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