Valentine's Day is the third largest shopping occasion of the year (topped by Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays, and Mother's Day). This amounts to nearly $20 billion in spending for the holiday, including gifts for pets, which account for almost $700 million. One article I read said that Valentine's Day is too huge for marketers to ignore, and that it's like Black Friday for florists, chocolatiers, and jewelers.
As with Christmas, Valentine's Day is meant to be a time to connect with family and friends in a way that shows love and commitment. Never mind that we should really be trying to show our loved ones that they are loved every day of the year.
Our culture has made Valentine's Day the heavy hitter, the one day we dare not fail to impress.
I am absolutely not saying we shouldn't give gifts to our loved ones. A thoughtfully chosen gift is one way to show you care about someone. But it's only one possible way to express love. If we subscribe to the theory that there are five Love Languages, then we might consider that a focus on gift giving causes us to undervalue the other four. In fact, maybe we shop more and amass too much stuff because we're trying (unsuccessfully) to fill that gap.
This Valentine's Day, why don't we spend some time and energy on the other possibilities for showing love:
- Acts of service (doing chores for another, noticing a need and meeting it without being asked, compromising, forgiving, dropping grudges, etc.)
- Words of affirmation (sincere compliments, saying "I love you" and "Thank you," giving encouragement, speaking positively instead of complaining, etc.)
- Quality time (focused and uninterrupted attention, listening, trying to understand the other's point of view, shared activities, etc.)
- Physical touch (hugs, kisses, hand holding, pats, fist bumps, neck rubs, etc.)
I enjoy receiving a few chocolate hearts, or a beautiful greeting card, or one perfect rose. But I adore having my husband's undivided attention or some help with household chores, some acupressure from my massage therapist son, a long phone call from my daughter, and "Dank you for gwilled cheese" and a hug from my grandson. Those are gifts for any day, not just a specially designated holiday.
May you love and be loved, today and every day.