We didn’t exchange cards this year. We didn’t even send Valentine’s to the kids, who are now young adults. It’s not that we’re not filled with love—we are. But a manufactured day of love doesn’t move the needle for me.
I’m not sure when I first started eschewing this holiday. Certainly not when I was a kid, when my mom would overdose us with candy conversation hearts, cinnamon red hot hearts, and chocolate hearts. And Valentine’s Day was special the first time I had a girlfriend and I was bursting with romantic love.
Maybe my attitude adjustment started during my years working in the restaurant industry. Valentine’s Day was one of the few days every year when every table was booked (the other two days were New Year’s Eve and Mother’s Day).
The problem from the insider’s point of view was that every table was a deuce. You’d have to sit two people at a table that that can accommodate four or even six diners. You didn’t get the big parties coming in that would spend a lot of money.
Sure, every year there would be that one couple that got engaged in the restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes this would involve the staff: the ring brought out on the dessert plate, or sunk to the bottom of a champagne glass. Such a sweet, public gesture, but could you hurry up because we’re behind and people are waiting for your table.
I don’t mean to be cynical about Valentine’s Day. It’s a great day to be in and express love. But what if you’re alone and lonely? I did a quick search of “Valentine’s Day and loneliness” and came across an almost surreal collection of articles and advice:
“Five Ways to Feel Better if You’re Solo on Valentine’s Day.”
Twice as good as that article is this one: “Ten Best Ways to Feel Better if You’re Lonely on Valentine’s Day.”
The first of those ten best ways: “Ignore Valentine’s Day.” Thanks. That’s helpful. I’ll just pirhouette away from my pain.
Good old WikiHow offers nine ways to be happy being single on Valentine’s Day. Method #3: Be happy with yourself regardless of your relationship status. That’s another great tip. It reminds me of the old joke about how to retire happily with five million dollars. Step 1: Make five million dollars.
The most bizarre tip I came across for combatting loneliness on Valentine’s Day is this:
“Spend two minutes and look at yourself. Make really good eye contact so you’re connecting to yourself. What you want to do is look beyond the physical. You’re looking beyond all the things we generally look at and you’re simply maintaining eye contact with yourself. This is a profound way to get to know yourself better and to become more at ease and comfortable with yourself. It’s amazingly powerful. When you do this with yourself it has the ability to make you more at ease with others.”
Wow, talk about benefits. I immediately gave the two-minute drill a try. The mirror told its tale: I need a haircut. I need a shave. My lips are chapped. My eyes are blue, but my lids are drooping and my bags are full. All is in order.
I can’t say I got to know myself better, but it was an interesting two minutes, which might have been better spent telling the people I love that I love them. I think I’ll do that now. And also run out for a bag of candy hearts. And cook something nice for dinner. And listen to Chet Baker’s soothing voice and sublime trumpet in his version of “My Funny Valentine”