Stop This World

Gracefully going from victim to survivor to servant leader in the heartland

Oh, Valentine’s Day.  

Thinking about Valentine’s Day, I’m always drawn back to my youth when I looked forward to Valentine’s Day because it meant copious amounts of sugar at school. It also meant that you got to decorate your very own Valentine box to put the cards and candy in.  I always had grandiose plans for my Valentine box.  Shiny, sparkly with lots of pink and red hearts.  One year I wanted to make a robot and the box ended up the same as every other year; a shoe box covered in red construction paper with random paper hearts.  Nothing flashy, but I would try again the following year with grandiose plans.  The best part about the Valentine boxes was the candy you received inside the cards.  Granted, Valentine’s Day wasn’t the best candy holiday.  That is reserved for Halloween.  But I could choke down enough of those awful, chalky candy hearts to get the sugar going.  I was reminded this week that the candy was typically a piece of gum like Juicy Fruit or Big Red.  A dear friend sent me a Valentine card this week and in there was a piece of Juicy Fruit gum.  I laughed out loud and enjoyed my piece of gum.  It tasted like my childhood.  I thought Valentine’s Day was pretty cool.

In my teens and twenties, I would long for a secret admirer on Valentine’s Day.  Would that guy that I had a crush on finally figure it out and surprise me with flowers and profess his undying love for me?  Would I get swept away to a fancy dinner (even though we were poor teenagers and college students)?  I longed for all the things you see on tv; chocolates, diamonds, flowers, and expensive meals all come to mind.  Every year I would wait, and every year would be the same answer.  Nope.  No romantic love.  No grand gestures.  Sometimes a pity party ensued of how unlovable I was because I wasn’t cool enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, the list goes on.  Cue the sad songs and the pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as I cried on my couch.  Sad, but true.  Throw in some wine and it was a grand old time.

Those were fun days.

I’m not ashamed to admit this at all.  It’s life.  Life happens.  I felt like I was missing out and my self confidence was tanking every year I didn’t have that grand gesture. 

Then, in my late 20’s something clicked in my head.  I didn’t need grand gestures of love from a boyfriend to have value.  Heck, I didn’t even need small gestures of love from a boyfriend.  I just wanted love.  And I realized that I had that love all around me with my family and friends.  Why was a I throwing a pity party for myself when I could be throwing a fun party for myself and my friends?  So, I started taking myself out on Valentine’s Day and invited friends who didn’t have plans to come along with me to celebrate love, whatever kind of love you like.

My parties included a fancy dinner at one of the hot restaurants in Minneapolis, getting dressed up, sipping on cocktails and laughing a lot.  The best part is that I didn’t have to rely on anybody else to produce it for me.  I made the dinner reservations and invited friends along for the fun.  Granted, we were looked at strangely by the servers and romantic couples at other tables, but we really didn’t care.  We were celebrating love.  The kind of love that doesn’t need a special day to celebrate, but we gladly took advantage of said holiday to get out of the house in the winter. 

Over the years I have grown quite fond of Valentine’s Day.  I enjoy sending out cards because who doesn’t love getting mail?  I enjoy surprising my Grandma with flowers and watching her light up.  I enjoy watching others be happy, especially during this pandemic.  And, I just enjoy celebrating love.  Thank goodness I realized twenty years ago that Valentine’s Day isn’t about romantic love and grand gestures, at least it isn’t about that to me.  I’m happy and content with myself in life and don’t need that validation on a certain day of the year.  I prefer small gestures throughout the year to show someone you love them.  Sending a note, lending a helping hand, listening to someone.  We could all use a lot more love in this world. 

So, as the sun sets on another Valentine’s Day I can say that I’m very happy.  My parents and I went out for lunch today, I took a glorious nap and I’ll be putting a puzzle together tonight.  More than likely ice cream will be involved, but there will be no tears.  Twenty-year-old self would be appalled at how lame this all is, but mid-forty-year-old self is happy as can be.

Wishing you a beautiful Valentine’s Day filled with the type of love you desire.

2 thoughts on “Candy Hearts

  1. Katie Jewison Johnsom says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day Julie! I think you are pretty amazing and worthy of all the love! But my opinion doesn’t matter! You have already found your value and worth! That’s the most grandiose gift one could ever receive!


  2. Jeanette G.. says:

    Julie, this is so beautifully written and is so true. You have lifted my spirits in this crazy world right now. Thank you


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