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Be your own valentine

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Valentine's Day. It really only became a card-gift-jewelry holiday in the United States during the last 75 years. The holiday itself originated as a pagan holiday a long, long time ago. Thank you, Wikipedia and for a really interesting history of Lupercalia and St. Valentine. But this post really isn't about that.

This post is about the importance of loving yourself and why you should be your own valentine, whether you're in a relationship or not.

I remember hand-making valentines with red construction paper, stickers, and doilies when I was a kid. I don't think my boys have ever made valentines by hand, unless you count the mini heart-shaped bars of soap my youngest and I made one year. (Oh, wait, one year I made the boys help with a service project, which was making valentines for a homeless shelter, but I am not sure they did much more than the stuffing envelopes part.) They're really not so much into arts and crafts.

My boys also quit giving valentines out long before elementary school was over. The card below, which is the inspiration for this post, must have been from when my youngest was in 1st or 2nd grade.

Give yourself a valentine

You'll notice that he wrote a valentine to himself.

He was simply writing a card to everyone on the class list, which he was on.

I had commented, "Oh, wow, hon -- you wrote a valentine to yourself!"

To which he replied, "Ugh, I'm so stupid!"

"Well, even if it was a mistake, it's a nice idea to be your own valentine, don't you think? And you're not stupid!"

Negative self-talk (which I engage in far too often myself) is probably the most important reason to be your own valentine. Just stop. Love yourself! (And I don't mean in the narcissistic way, where you think you're better than everyone else and you're never wrong and you can't apologize for anything. Let's just keep this about showing loving-kindness and respect to yourself; I am not going to travel down the dark path to discuss narcissistic "love," or self-aggrandizement, self-centeredness, or selfishness.)

Don't be negative

How many of us have got caught up in S.A.D. (Singles Awareness Day) (the opposite of Valentine's Day, for single people) and had a pity party for ourselves because we didn't have a romantic partner?

Well, I have. I was single for the better part of a decade after I had kids. (Actually, I was single for most of my adult life before I had kids, too.)

There was the year when I wrote my own candy hearts with a red PaperMate flair felt tip pen. They said things like, "Eat s***" and "F*** off." I left them in a candy dish on the coffee table in the house I shared with three other people (two of the other three people in the house were a couple). Yes, I was resentful that I was single and 24-ish, when (it seemed that) all my friends were paired up.

Buy yourself flowers, or a gift

Ultimately, I learned to be okay with being single. I sent cards to my friends. I gave gifts to my children. I bought flowers for myself -- and not just on Valentine's Day. Have you ever bought flowers for yourself? That might be one good way to be your own valentine.

I don't recall ever giving myself a gift on Valentine's Day, but there have been plenty of Christmases when I did so. I had to, for the kids' sake. I didn't want them to think that Santa didn't get Mommy any gifts, i.e., that Mommy was "bad." My favorite gift I ever got myself was a pair of diamond dangle earrings. I used credit card rewards every year for these gifts. Perhaps you can be your own valentine with a jewelry gift that you pick out yourself.

Take yourself on a date

Have you ever gone out on a "date" alone? I wasn't too great at this, but I have gone to the movies a couple of times by myself. One of those times I went to see "Eat, Pray, Love," which is about a woman who leaves a marriage and travels around the world to "find herself." I put that in quotes because wherever you go, there you are. You're never going to be able to run away from who you are so you might as well learn to like...and then love...yourself. Somehow it didn't seem weird to me to go to that movie alone.

Have some valentine candy -- or not

Lastly, have you ever bought yourself chocolates or other candy? Um, yeah. In this case, I tend to be my own valentine on too many occasions, year-round. Sugar addiction is something I struggle with. So for me, buying myself candy is not exactly a loving gesture. If you are one of those people who can eat the recommended servings size of Dove chocolates or Lindt truffles, by all means, go for it!

Be your own valentine even if you're in a relationship

Even if you are in a romantic relationship, it's a good idea to be your own valentine, in the sense that you do not count on the other person 100% to validate you or read your mind about how you want to celebrate Valentine's Day. "Serenity ends where expectations begin," as the saying goes. Let's be sure not to let "The Joneses" or Hallmark dictate how to celebrate Valentine's Day or even whether or not you choose your love on this day any more than you do any other day of the year. I believe you have to love yourself before you can truly love someone else, so be your own valentine!

Incidentally, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (after Christmas). Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines. If women are doing the bulk of the purchasing, they must be giving cards to other people besides their romantic partners, so it seems to me this holiday is more about all kinds of love -- parents, kids, friends, etc. -- not just romantic love.

By the way, I noticed that Valentine cards are $6.49 and up this year. It might be a good idea to go back to the construction-paper-and-doily era.

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