by Connie H. Deutsch
Valentine's Day is fast approaching and hearts and flowers are popping up all over the place. Every store you go into beckons you to buy something for the one you love. People don't hesitate to ask you what you got for Valentine's Day as if this is a given like Christmas or your birthday. I've even heard people say that they like this holiday best of all because it has nothing to do with religion or politics. And best of all, we have images of Cupid aiming his arrow at someone's heart and reminding us that everyone loves a lover.
For many people, it's romance and feelings of unbridled joy and optimism for the future of their relationship. For others, not so. I remember teachers in the lower grades giving us the assignment to make Valentine's Day cards for our classmates and then we put them into a box and the teacher would call out the names of the recipients of the Valentines. Some recipients would get a zillion Valentines while others got none except the ones the teacher put in the box to make sure that everyone got at least one card.
Fast forward to adulthood. Valentine's Day has come to mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For many who are in terrible relationships, it can mean no acknowledgment whatsoever while for others, it can be the one day of the year that a husband can try to make up for neglecting his wife the rest of the year or assuage his guilt for having a lover.
But for more people than you can count, it underscores the sadness and loneliness of those who have no one special in their lives. If there is any one day of the year where those on the outside desperately want to get inside of Relationship Heaven, it's Valentine's Day. They don't even care if they are in a good relationship as long as they are in some relationship on that day.
It can be especially difficult for people who are going through a divorce or breaking up with a lover to watch everyone around them buying cards and gifts for that someone special and know that this year there won't be an exchange of these things for them. They hear people making plans for romantic dinners for two and know that this year they will probably be eating alone. Many of their friends might not even realize how isolating this holiday can be for them so they don't call or try to get together with them.
Patients in hospitals and old age homes are often overlooked for most things and Valentine's Day is no exception. This isn't the kind of holiday that raises the awareness for those who are alone, often unloved. For many with severe physical health issues, Valentine's Day is the least of their concerns but for those who are not in critical condition, when they hear people discussing their plans for a romantic evening or see florists bringing bouquets of flowers to the occupants of other rooms in their facility, it reminds them that no one cares enough about them to call or send a card.
With holidays like Christmas and Easter, there is a social consciousness for the underprivileged, and checks are mailed to food banks and to the various charitable organizations. Groceries are distributed to the homeless shelters and people volunteer their time in the soup kitchens. For most of us, there is a deep awareness that we need to share what we have with those who have not.
But for Valentine's Day, there is no such awareness. People go about their daily lives and give no thought to the people who have no one to share this holiday with them. There are no soup kitchens and distribution centers for the lonely unattached Valentine singles. For most of them, the day couldn't end fast enough.
This Valentine's Day, call someone who lives alone; talk to someone who looks lonely or sad; smile at someone who looks grouchy; send an E-mail to someone you've neglected for awhile; share your happiness with someone; and don't hesitate to give everyone you meet, a Hallmark moment; the kindness you share, will come back to you a hundredfold.