For the past several weeks, we've all been inundated by the ads and hoopla leading up to Valentine's Day. Sure, February 14 has lots of meaning for most couples. Many enjoy romantic dinners out and go on dates to remember, or even get engaged or married on this traditional "day of love." Roses and huge boxes of chocolates dominate the day.

Little children get excited for the special day because they get those little boxes of Valentine cards to sign and give their classmates and neighborhood friends According to history, those Valentine cards have been shared since the 1840s. V-Day usually means a little party in school or at scouts, or some extra treats at home from mom and dad or grandmom.

But what about everyone else? How is Valentine's Day special to singles? That is the very cool part of Valentine's Day- it is a time to let everyone, not just a significant other, know that you love and appreciate them. No one should ever feel badly about not having a partner to celebrate the day. Valentine's Day has definitely blossomed into way more. If you don't have a sweetheart, try "being a sweetheart to others."

Who says only young children can pass out those cards? Try giving Valentine cards (with or without homemade heart-shaped cookies or candy) to all those who enhance your life and make it better or anyone you know who could use the lift of knowing they are cared about and valued.

Contrary to what some think, Valentine's Day wasn't created by confectionery and greetings card companies just to sell candy and cards or as a day exclusively for lovers. Rather, history tells us it began as a church sanctioned holiday, when Pope Gelasius deemed February 14 St. Valentine's Day in 496A.D. In other words, the holiday started out with a way deeper significance than just getting a dozen roses from a husband or boyfriend. Why not turn back time and enhance its meaning again?

The annual day of flowers, hearts and overflowing love can be shared with whomever you love or care about. It's a day to break from the dullness of routine February days and do something a little different to mark the occasion. Go to lunch with a cousin you haven't seen in awhile, visit with someone who would enjoy having company, or plan a little day trip with a friend. The novel ways to celebrate cupid's square on the calendar are endless.

For years, my extended family would pick a weekend around Valentine's Day to have what we'd call our "winter getaway." We'd pick a hotel that catered to business people so rates were cheaper on the weekend and book rooms surrounding the indoor pool for Saturday night. There would always be about 4-5 rooms of us. We'd swim, order pizzas, rent pay-per-view movies (a children's flick in one room for the kids and another film for adults to watch in the adjoining room), and then we'd have breakfast at the hotel together the next morning and all split. It was a really fun way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

There are lots of ways to think outside of the box to make this Valentine's Week special. Once, when my children were little, I had a Valentine's Day picnic in my living room. We lit the fireplace, spread a blanket on the rug and I made a "picnic style" dinner to enjoy. I forgot all about this, but my oldest daughter reminded me last year when she told me she had a Valentine picnic for her children just as I had once done.

The important thing is just to celebrate the day. Take a friend out for a cup of coffee, bake some red velvet cupcakes for your co-workers, surprise someone who's struggling or feeling down in the dumps with a pretty bouquet of flowers. All these small things will make you smile and are out of the ordinary of what you might do any other day this month. Just like everyone celebrates the holidays or birthdays in their own special ways, so we are free to add our special touches to V-Day. Remember, the day will only be as special as you make it.

My husband told me he made us a Valentine's reservation for three this Thursday and included my Mom in our little dinner party so she wouldn't spend the night alone. I couldn't really think of a better Valentine's gift he could have given me or one that would have touched me or meant as much. Little gestures always seem to mean the most.

I know, it all may sound pretty corny, and most of it probably is. But if you really want to enjoy Valentine’s Day, try to think creatively, let those around you know how much you appreciate and love (or at least like) them, and find a fun, new way to enjoy this special day of conversation hearts, XOs, and red overload! Happy Valentine's Day !

Readers can e-mail Peg DeGrassa at pdegrassa@ delconewsnetwork. com or write her c/o DCNN, 1914 Parker Ave., Holmes, PA 19043.

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