What’s just around the corner, sticky sweet and has Hallmark written all over it? If you guessed Valentine’s Day, you are correct. Even for those of us who don’t buy into the massive consumerism of this holiday can be guilty of getting caught up in the hype. After all, what girl doesn’t love hearts and flowers? Can we get a shout out for milk chocolates in a red satin box? We wouldn’t be human if these symbols of ‘amore’ didn’t pull at our heartstrings even a little bit.
But what do you do if you’re not exactly in a celebratory mood? What else is there besides hiding under your sheets and hibernating until the 15th? The goal is to not get bitter and turn into a Valentine’s Day scrooge. This is easier said than done, for sure. Sometimes ignorance breeds contempt so let’s get to know this little winter holiday a bit better.
THE HISTORY OF LOVE
Valentine’s Day originated as a pagan celebration 800 years before ‘St. Valentine’ even came into the picture. The Romans would hold a ceremony in mid-February commemorating young men's rites of passage to the God Lupercus. This celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of women from a box. The woman whose name was picked became their sexual companion for the year.
Talk about ‘luck of the draw”! Yikes. During the 5th century, the Romans transformed this ceremony into a celebration honoring St. Valentine who was actually a bishop. Emperor Claudius had outlawed marriage because he thought married men made poor soldiers. St. Valentine, being a romantic and a good Christian would secretly marry lovers despite Claudius’ edict. This resulted in the imprisonment, stoning, beheading and ultimate demise of St. Valentine. It seems that unlike Cher, Claudius didn’t believe in life after love.
ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? NOT!
Lara Cox’s seven-year marriage had been over for only three months and it was her first V-day flying solo. On the big red holiday she found herself in the living room eating ice cream with her two old boyfriends, Ben and Jerry. Half way through watching ‘The Way We Were’, the tenant she took in to help out with the mortgage payments breathlessly bursts out of her room in sexy lingerie and asks Lara if she could “…please attach her garters in the back? Thanks.”
Lara says, “I thought I was going to wither away with shame, which is crazy because I never made a big deal about Valentine’s Day when I was married! All of a sudden it was like the world was shouting at me ‘you’re all alone Lara!’ Maybe that was really my mother’s voice, but either way I was so surprised at how strongly it affected me.” Where’s Hubble when you need him?
Raquel Carrington had been divorced for a year and on her first single Valentine’s Day in five years she decided to take a hot bath, order in and watch a movie. Sounds great, except… “It didn’t exactly go the way I’d planned,” she says. “I got home from work and for some reason there was no hot water, so my bath was out. Then the Chinese take-out I ordered was contaminated and I ended up in the emergency room at three in the morning with food poisoning.”
These V-Day gone south scenarios are enough to make even the most secure of us jump off the deep end. So what happens when it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re putting the key in the door to ‘crazy’ and about to turn the lock? Believe it or not, there are choices other than cursing happy couples, wallowing in self-pity or ripping up your kid’s Hannah Montana Valentines and using them to stoke the fire.
Deborah Kelly-Dubois, a clinical psychologist in New York City says that, ”Love is about feeling good and living in the moment. Having expectations, especially for the holidays and celebrations are hard to avoid. Try your best to put aside what you think this day should be about, or what it was about for you in the past and recreate it for who you are today.”
YA GOTTA HAVE HEART
Volunteering makes us feel good and more often than not, we get back so much more than we give, especially when it’s done from a genuine place. With the major holiday season over it’s a lot more challenging for soup kitchens, shelters and all kinds of charitable organizations to acquire volunteers.
“It’s like there’s a major slow down after Christmas,” says Craig Austin a volunteer for Project Angel Food, Los Angeles. “People are in the spirit of the holiday and then they get back to their lives in mid January. We are inundated with volunteers right before Christmas and then ‘poof’ a lot of people disappear in the New Year.”
Volunteering is a great way to get out of your head and into your heart. When you give your time to others who are less fortunate than you it’s a wonderful reminder to be grateful for all the abundance you have in your life.
Get that pink-feathered boa out of the back of your closet and celebrate your life by throwing a shindig with a theme. The party shouldn’t be an “Anti-Valentine’s Day Celebration” since you want to concentrate on abundance and positive attitudes not lack and negativity. Invite all single people and tell each person to bring a platonic member of the opposite sex. This way there’s no concern while straining across the room to see if the hottie in the green sweater is wearing a wedding ring.
It’s a fantastic excuse to make red Jell-o shots, put out some decadent chocolates and fun candy hearts. Be cheeky and serve only red drinks or have a kissing booth! You can go as over the top or as mellow as your mood. Make it a time to get to know new people, make friends and turn the whole ‘Valentine’s Day = Romance’ formula upside down.
Linda Dearborne of Encino, Calif., said, “I went to a party like this about three years ago right after a break up. I didn’t meet any guys, but I did meet a woman who became one of my closest friends and confidantes. She was also going through a separation and we bonded and had so much fun checking out the single guys! It was the first truly great time I had after my husband and I split up. Today (my friend and) I throw this kind of party annually and it’s become a kind of tradition. As long as we’re both unattached we figure we might as well celebrate it!”
MAY I HAVE THIS DANCE?
Have you always wanted to learn to Tango? How about trying out the Samba or Belly Dancing? Take yourself and a girlfriend to a dance class of the seductive variety. Dance is a great way to revive your body and get reconnected to your sensuality. Maybe you’ll uncover a passion you never knew you had?
Maria Torres of Broadway Dance Center in New York City says, “ The Latin dances and especially the Tango are filed with seduction and romance. It’s all about connecting to your partner and having a great time! It’s fun to see all these people who in the beginning of class are so nervous about how the look, and are all concerned about whether or not they are they doing it right. Even the most nervous students by the end of the two hours are smiling and laughing. A few of the beginners even stick with it and become really good! It’s a fun hobby and a fantastic way to meet and relate with people. The best part is you don’t even have to say a word!”
Other Valentine’s Day Alternative Ideas:
1. Treat yourself to a massage.
2. See a fun movie with the kids.
3. Write a gratitude letter on pretty stationary to a special girlfriend and actually send it in the mail! '
4. Go hear some live music.
5. Buy yourself some flowers - you deserve them!
Shari Albert, Divorce360.com