Everyday is a holiday of sorts, when we live to be of service, when we love who we are and what we do.
It suddenly occurred to me why I don’t care about Hallmark holidays: my life is a holiday. No, I don’t live on a tropical island or have a sugar daddy. I live in the wilds of Montana, it’s cold. I don’t ski.
My vocation as a healer, hypnotherapist, and writer is my right livelihood. I’m not wealthy. I work hard at what is important to me. I strive to contribute to life, to offer my love as service, but also in simple actions like: looking people in the eyes, smiling warmly, and offering them compliments in the grocery store line, or taking the time to get to know the waitresses that serve me at my favorite breakfast joint.
I make efforts to be a lover to life, everyday so the fact that I do not currently have a lover on love day doesn’t bother me.
It’s not just Valentine’s day, either. I spent last Christmas alone, as well. My daughter was working, my mom was in Texas, and though I have friends with whom I would have been a welcome intruder—I didn’t want to. I’m not a miser or a scrooge. I love love! I love celebrating love but those days aren’t especially significant to me because I love love everyday. I offer my gifts everyday. I engage in mutuality and humane, genuinely compassionate discourse everyday.
Am I bragging? Yea, a little. I have worked hard for this to become my life, and to regulate my need for escape, or place unsustainable expectations on holidays, or on other people to meet my needs. Trust me, I’m not saying I don’t have needs, emotional or relational—I do. I just tend to space them out over the other 364 days of the year, so as not to place undue pressure on anyone, including myself.
I don’t have a lover; I haven’t for a few years and even when I did, I can’t say I cared all that much for Valentine’s day. It’s amateur night, in my opinion. People purchasing trinkets and making expensive dinner reservations. People out in public—the air of expectation so thick, it could be sliced with a machete.
Some people do love it and that is sweet. Some people are acting out of a sense of social obligation. It feels fake.
Love is not fake, nor is it relegated to one day on the calendar on which everyone loses their minds over proving what a good lover they are. If we’re only putting effort into being a good lover on that one day—we’re not a good lover. That goes for more than our attention to a romantic partner; that goes toward caring for every aspect of our life.
We cannot buy our way into lives that we do not need to escape from, not on any given Sunday, nor on any special day. I don’t want to get too fanatical about this, but it sort of breaks my heart how heartbroken people get over not having the life or relationship that society says we are supposed to have, and especially, how extra wrought people get over it on holidays.”
Often on days like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, I will intentionally write about the other side, loneliness—just to let the lonely know they are not alone.
There is nothing wrong with you if you do not have a lover on love day—f*ck it. Love the world instead! Love yourself. Do something genuinely good for you, something your future self will thank you for.
Real love is caring about this moment and beyond. Do we stop to think about the waste that is created on these special days? Rarely. Do we pause to consider the impact that certain modes of celebrating have on our bodies or the planet? I dare say, rarely.
Sporadic demonstrations of affection, though nice—do not love make. Love is made in daily care. Love is made in paying attention to the details of our own and others’ lives. Love is made in awareness of, and frugality with, our resources as much as, if not more so, than in splurging.
I love love, all expressions of love, including grief. I get sad when I see people getting down because they don’t have the manifestation of love they think they are supposed to have; spinning trance narratives about their worthiness in the absence of a proper love portfolio. This feels a lot like capitalism corrupting our intimacy interface with ourselves and each other.
We see these happy pictures of couples and families, but the reality is we simply cannot know what those lives are really like. That couple may be emotionally unavailable to each other but look great in a matching sweater set in front of the Christmas tree, or that killer vacay spot.
That was my last relationship; it looked way better in photos than it felt to live inside of. Maybe that is why I do not mind my loneliness now—I know what it is to be in the picture perfect relationship and not be relating. People I didn’t know used to write to me and tell me how much they envied my life. Pictures, social media especially—only tell a sliver of the story.
Comparison kills love. It kills happiness and it smothers satisfaction.
Rather than getting all wound up over the next Hallmark holiday, I invite you to practice this instead:
Check in with your own body. A holiday can be a wonderful day to rest. Give yourself some time. Take a walk, take a bath, make a lovely meal, even if it’s just for one.
Offer something back. There are lots of ways we can do this: from volunteering at a soup kitchen, a food bank, or more colloquially, ask a neighbor if you can lend a hand, or even call a friend. Keeping our eyes open when we are out in public will afford us with plenty of opportunities to give back. Holding a door for someone, offering up that extra change in our wallet, or even striking up a conversation lets people know they matter. Isn’t that what love is?
Create something. We get all swooped up with purchasing things on holidays but handcrafted gifts are lovely expressions of care. Even if we only wind up creating for ourselves, not selling or gifting our products—creativity is an expression of love.
Love’s greatest gift is its ability to make everything it touches sacred. ~ Barbara de Angelis