In my elementary school days, Valentine’s Day was the day of the year—a rager, if you will (as a rager would be defined in the third grade). My teacher would spend the week leading up to the big day orienting our lessons around love. That meant love poems, DIY crafts, and history lessons about Valentine’s Day. In hindsight, maybe it was a little over–the–top. But none of that even came close to what was the grandest part: the Valentine card.
The first mention of the holiday was in the 15th century, when lovers would exchange letters describing their yearning for the other. From there, the Valentine began to show up in poems, plays, and epics. The idea spread throughout Europe and became popular in Victorian England with the advent of the printing press. But it was upon crossing the Atlantic to America that the Valentine card was first commercialized by Hallmark Cards.
These cards, inscribed with tacky poems and cheesy messages, were what I lived and breathed for. They were how I and many others showed our love and appreciation for our friends (and if you were ballsy, your crush). But then middle school came and the rebellious (aka saying "no" to my mother and then acquiescing to her demands five minutes later), prepubescent years set in. Suddenly, we all thought ourselves too cool to send a card or even express an ounce of appreciation and sensitivity. The trend died.
But here’s what I’m trying to say: bring back the Valentine card. Especially in our busy lives, we so often forget to appreciate the people who matter. We don't get to express our gratitude to those around us often enough. Valentine’s isn’t just a day to spend with your significant other. It’s a day to spend with your loved ones—and that includes yourself. Even if it’s the shortest of notes or the most trivial of messages, they’re sure to make anyone’s day.
Valentine's Day is an opportunity to push past the traditional norms of romantic love shared between a man and a woman. There are so many kinds of love beyond the romantic. There is friendship and family and love for yourself among many others. We should challenge the norms of Valentine’s Day and make it a celebration for all kinds of love. The first step: bring back the Valentine card.