My mother loves Valentine’s Day. In the midwest, February is cold and gloomy with spring still several months away. Valentine’s Day happens at the exact moment when everyone needs a pick me-up in the form of a heart-shaped cookie.

As children, she helped my brother’s and I create Valentine’s Day boxes. We selected Valentines with our favorite characters on them at the store to give to friends and family. There was never any mention of Valentine’s Day being for a significant other. She never once demanded anything in return from my dad or us. She made it a fun day for the family.

In highschool, instead of pinning away for a boyfriend or writing the day off as a silly made-up “holiday”, I went out to dinner with girlfriends. I continued the precedent my mother set: Valentine’s Day is a fun way to express love to people important to us. I have control over how February 14 makes me feel because it’s never been about receiving anything. It’s been about expressing.

Many say we don’t need a specific “day” and we should celebrate love everyday, except we don’t. Life is busy. Anniversaries and holidays are reminders to schedule dates and send cards. It isn’t contrived. You make it how you want it.

My mother taught me Valentine’s Day is about more than romantic love. She made the day about her love for us and in turn I learned to embrace this Hallmark holiday as a fun excuse to love on friends and family.

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