A few weeks ago a long time friend called just to tell me she appreciates me. That was it. “I appreciate YOU.” It happened on a day that was especially tough and I was feeling especially unappreciated. Those words, at that moment, meant more to me than all the cards and flowers the world could offer.
This week marked the passing of another Valentine Day. It isn’t my favorite holiday. My husband and I have the same conversation every year. He shows me he loves me through the year. I don’t need one particular day. I know this is unusual. And I understand when people say “it is a day that at least reminds us to love”, but it reminds too many they are not loved.
Think back to your days in elementary school. Painstakingly making out your valentine cards for your classmates. Being sure that the one to the icky boy or girl you really don’t like, doesn’t get the wrong message from your card. Or how about purposefully picking out the one with the hippo on it to give to the fattest one in class.
Years later you are in college or at work and “everyone” around you receives something for Valentine Day to show how much they are loved and appreciated. Except you.
On February 12, Whitney Houston passed away. This was not simply a woman who had fame and fortune through her singing and acting career. She was a woman who suffered at the hands of those who supposedly cared about her. She once said, “I’ve turned down a lot of arena dates because I’ve done the big-arena thing. Now, I want to do something where people can feel me and I can feel them.” Now she is in the biggest arena of them all, and I can’t help but think people are feeling her more now than ever and the words of her songs that spoke of love, need and appreciation. Had she only been able to feel our love and appreciation while she was with us.
This week is also “Random Act of Kindness” week. I try being kind in general, but this week, I have focused on doing something every day that shows kindness toward someone else. One day I baked brownies and shared them with friends. Another I let someone go in front of me in line at the store. I sent a card to someone who isn’t a friend, but is important simply for being alive. Simple things that I hope brightened someone’s day. Or at least for the moment made them feel they are noticed and matter.
Today’s Valentine Day should be promoted as a day for love in general. Not just for sweethearts. Not just because we have to participate. If it is truly about love, I want to see ads that show random people hugging each other. I want to see children sharing their lunches and snacks. I want to see you sitting beside a homeless person on the park bench and conversing with them. I want to see you taking that bag of groceries you bought and giving it to someone hungrier than you. I want to see you share a smile. Is buying a card really what says I love you? Cards are nice and appreciated, but donate in that person’s name to her favorite charity and send her an e-card telling her.
And when the day is over, do similar things another day, until soon you have your own “random act of kindness week”. Not just when you feel it. But when you don’t feel it. It is amazing how much better it will make you feel. Keep doing this until it is part of your life’s fabric.
Valentine Day should be everyday.
And for you, my reader. I appreciate you. You matter. I am glad you are a part of my life and that you are out there, somewhere, sharing this universe. People, matter. You, matter. You are loved and important.