Here’s a confession: I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Never have.
When I was at school my main problem with the whole love-filled celebration was the potential for rejection and school-wide humiliation, and so the thought of committing my romantic feelings to a card festooned with glitter and hearts and filled with sentimental verses made my toes curl.
These days I don’t mind the cards or the flowers, the heart-shaped chocolates or the over-priced meals out, and I’m over the whole rejection thing now that I have a husband who won’t laugh in my face if I ask him to be my Valentine (or, at least, I hope he wouldn’t).
My main issue with Valentine’s Day these days is that it so often excludes people who aren’t in romantic relationships, and I’m concerned that celebrating only romantic love reinforces the narrative that being single is a bad thing.
(Yes, I realise that in some countries platonic love is celebrated as much as romantic love on Valentine’s Day, but in the UK we still seem to favour romantic love, and that’s always sat a little uncomfortably with me, whether I’ve been in a relationship or not.)
Having said all that, the pandemic has recently made me look at Valentine’s Day from a different angle. For almost a year now, socialising with loved ones has been physically difficult, and I’ve become acutely aware that I am in the fortunate position of being locked down with the person I love, unlike so many others.
Also, finding joy in lockdown 3.0 hasn’t been easy, and I really do think it’s important that we all try to find things to celebrate at the start of 2021, particularly following such a subdued Christmas period and definitely whilst the weather is cold and uninviting.
So, whilst it seems unlikely that I’ll be showering my husband with cards or flowers this Valentine’s Day, I do feel a strong urge to celebrate love itself. After all, the past year has been incredibly tough for all of us and it seems only right that we celebrate the things that have helped us through it. Yes, Netflix, banana bread, face masks and alcohol have all done their bit too, but love is the thing that’s kept us talking to our families on Zoom, messaging our friends via WhatsApp, and clapping on our doorsteps for our (utterly wonderful) key workers. And that, in my opinion, is more than deserving of a celebration (and perhaps even a heart-shaped chocolate too).