Yes, that’s right. Even now that I am happily in a relationship with the most wonderful man I’ve ever known, I still hate Valentine’s Day. I’m sure plenty of you believed that I was just another single who was unhappy and so claimed to hate the holiday as a way of dealing with not having someone. But you were wrong. Yesterday was Shane’s and my first Valentine’s Day together and we didn’t celebrate. I asked him not to do anything and he honored my request. (Such a breath of fresh air to have someone listen when you say “No”…)

My friend Rashid asked me if I hated love. I said no. He asked if I hated Shane. I said no. I simply hate Valentine’s Day. I am all for love. (And I’m definitely all for my Love.) But Valentine’s Day is not about love. Not really. It’s about the contrived Hollywood version of love that isn’t real. It’s about commercializing and making a profit off of people’s (i.e. women’s) emotions. It’s about making money off of chocolate and flowers and jewelry and fancy dinners and red lingerie and cards.

If Valentine’s Day was truly about love, they would not be pushing flowers that have been over harvested and over priced. They would not be pushing diamonds that someone probably spilled their blood to mine and transport. (Yes, Tom Shane, I’m looking at you and your commercials condemning lab grown diamonds which are *truly* conflict free.) They would not have rows and rows of chocolates that up to 40% of was made with child slave labor. They would not be marketing thousands of cards that will eventually be thrown in the trash, which is such a good use of the trees sacrificed to make them. They would not show commercials of young, beautiful couples having fancy, expensive dinners and spending hundreds of dollars on…well, her. (Although, face it boys, that lingerie you bought with the heart on the string of the thong isn’t *really* for her. πŸ˜‰ ) They would not focus on the kind of love that sets people’s (again, mostly women’s) expectations too high and makes single people feel like shit for being single.

Love is every day. Love is doing the laundry because you know that your girlfriend is going to come home from school exhausted and that a heaping pile of dirty clothes will stress her out. Love is stopping to talk to a homeless person on the street instead of rushing past them while throwing some change their way. Love is friends, single, dating, and married, surrounding one another and supporting each other through good times and bad. Love is consuming less so that others can have enough to live. Love is the couple who sticks together even as they begin to grey and get wrinkles and forget more often where they parked the car. Love is the sacrifices made in order to take care of a mentally handicapped child. (Which usually turn out to be not as big of sacrifices as they first feel like compared to the love that grows.) Love is little children who come and give you a big hug and kiss just because you’re you.

If Valentine’s Day was geared toward that kind of love, I would celebrate with abandon. I would be yelling from the rooftop how much I love Valentine’s Day. Couples do not need a once a year holiday to show each other that they love each other. That’s what anniversaries are for, to remember why you got together or got married in the first place.

I’ve heard a lot of women say “Well, if I don’t have Valentine’s Day to guilt him into it, I’ll never get anything!” I don’t want Shane to buy me flowers or jewelry or take me out to dinner because he feels like he has to. I want him to do it because he wants to. And if he doesn’t want to, then there are deeper issues in our relationship that a forced night of romantic gestures isn’t going to fix. (Please keep in mind that there is a difference between not wanting to and not being able to afford to. Your SO may want to do all of these things for you but needs to spend the money on necessities like food and shelter. That is love too.) Because when you love someone, you want to make them happy and you want to do what is in their best interest. This is something that the past five years has taught me. Shane has shown me he loved me before by walking away when I asked him to. He was waiting with open arms when I came back. He continually makes sacrifices for me and I make sacrifices for him. Because that is what love does. I don’t need flowers or candy or jewelry or fancy dinners. What I need is a man who loves me and stands by me through the best and worst of times. That is what I have. And I don’t need a commercialized, consumer-driven holiday to remind me of it.

I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I supposed the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again. God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us. – Donald Miller, ‘Blue Like Jazz’

But what exactly is love? Love is willing the good. We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake. – Dallas Willard with Don Simpson, ‘Revolution of Character’

We cannot do great things on this earth; only small things with great love. – Mother Teresa

Love sought is good but, given unsought, is better. – Shakespeare