Glitter Hearts, Love, & Toothbrushes

Valentine’s Day: You love it or you hate it.

You can probably guess from my photo which camp I’m in. I went on a valentine-making spree of “I have more valentine cards than I even have friends to send them to” proportions. It even became a family affair when my brother joined the fun, lured by all my pretty stamps and glitter tape.

Jokes—his real motive was homework procrastination.

I don’t know why this one little day is so polarizing. In my eyes, it’s a day dedicated to pink and red hearts, sweet desserts, and people going out of their way to say they love you. Now that’s a day I can totally get behind.

I get the other side though. It’s a Hallmark holiday. It’s overly commercialized, overly monetized; it’s slightly single-shaming; not to mention it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation. Does anyone really need a heart-shaped cardboard box full of over-priced chocolate? No. (Besides, only half of them taste good.) Shouldn’t we tell people we love them every day, anyway? Why set so much store by this mushy day?

I grew up like lots of girls did: popular movies and books selling me on the idea that a prince was going to come, flawlessly handsome, funny, rich, and perfect, happily ever after, the end. Then there’s just the way we speak in general, throwing the words “love” and “hate” around so easily that they don’t mean much of anything.

Love, true love, is a lot of work. Doesn’t matter what type of love we’re talking either; whether you’re thinking about a sister or a friend or a spouse, it’s work. I’m pretty convinced that the people we love the most can annoy us the most. And anger—whoa baby—I think we can all think of one time we’ve seen people who love each other so angry they can’t even bear to speak to one another.

Love is work, which the movies and books don’t often show. Sure, the leading couple is going to end up together at the end, but though that’s the end of the story we get, it’s only the beginning of the relationship. The stories say “happily ever after,” but that phrase skims over the day in and day out reality of relationships. I was at a wedding last year, and the woman presiding over the ceremony said, “Marriage is about the person you want to spend the next 50 years brushing your teeth next to.”

Damn. I think that’s more profound and beautiful than all my blog posts combined; reality check and romance all in one. Fifty-plus years watching someone brush teeth. Who are the people in your life you’ll do anything for? Who are the people that will stand by your side through your triumphs, your failures, and your toothpaste-spitting rituals?

If your idea of the perfect Valentine’s day includes chocolates and a dozen roses and dinner where the waiter serves you a wine you can’t pronounce the name of, more power to you. Celebrate! Why the hell not? I think we all need an excuse to be a little gross and mushy, to wear pink ribbons in our hair, cut one hundred hearts out of construction paper, and eat chocolate-dipped strawberries.

But I think why I like Valentine’s day so much has less to do with the decorations and the cards and more to do with love itself. Pure and simple. February 14 is, for me at least, a nice and needed reminder that I have some amazing people in my life, and those people can use a little appreciation.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. Now, excuse me while I go and add to my valentine card stockpile. Where’s that glitter…

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