Modern day Valentine’s Day. That one simple holiday can evoke terror in the minds and hearts of many. The day after Christmas, store aisles are lined with row after row of heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates, giant stuffed bears with big red bows, snazzy red and pink Valentine socks, home décor, tee shirts that you’ll wear one day a year with cheesy phrases printed on the front with smiling cartoon hearts, and cards! Oh the cards! There are funny cards, and sappy cards, big cards, little cards, and cards that play music when you open them. The pressure to get just the right gift with just the right presentation is immense, and buddy if you don’t deliver, you’re in the dog house!
Single folks refer to Valentine’s Day as “Single Awareness Day”. For weeks they’re reminded of just how “single” they are. Ads on television and radio remind them that the only way to spend Valentine’s Day is by showering their loved one (or getting showered) with elaborate gifts, followed by a romantic i.e. expensive dinner (that is, if you remembered to make reservations. If not, you’re screwed…and not in a good way), topped off by an evening stroll, hand in hand. Can’t you just see it? Isn’t it lovely? Isn’t it grand? Isn’t it bullshit?
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a well placed romantic gesture but I’ve never been sold on the traditional idea of Valentine’s Day. I don’t care for red roses. They remind me of a funeral…or the Bachelor. I’m not into expensive jewelry. I cherish the “I love Mom” necklace my five year old daughter presented to me years ago, thrilled that she had picked it out all by herself. It turned my neck green and made my skin itch but I wore it proudly and still have it, over twenty years later. I’ve been happily married for almost thirty years and together my husband and I have celebrated many a Valentine’s Day. Not ones to fancy waiting around for a dinner reservation, perusing the overpriced “lover’s specials”, then trying to have a conversation over the din of a packed restaurant, we usually choose to spend our Valentine’s Day at home. I’m fortunate. I’ve had a special someone to spend Valentine’s Day with for as long as I can remember. Over the years we’ve shared the day with our children; including them in our celebration. We’ve had family movie nights while munching on heart shaped pizza, or if I’m feeling particularly creative; heart shaped meat loaf! When our daughters were young I’d help them make hand-made Valentines for their classmates and homemade cards for their grandparents. It was always about the love we put into it and not the money we spent.
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Shulz
Are you thinking, “ok blondie, what’s your point”? It’s simple really. Valentine’s Day is what you make of it. Don’t have a “significant other”? Adjust the way you think about Valentine’s Day! Anyone can be your Valentine! Do you work with a great group of coworkers? Do you have a special friend or group of friends? Organize a fun potluck at work with a Valentine theme! Grab your girlfriends and go out for a Galentine’s brunch for a “Gal-a-bration”! Spend the day with your children or grandchildren making heart shaped cookies and Valentine garland. It doesn’t have to be about big, elaborate gifts that break the bank. Do you have furry friends? Tie a big red bow to Fido’s collar and go for a Valentine’s Day walk. I guarantee he’ll love it and you’ll brighten the day of passersby! Is there a retirement home nearby? Stop by with some homemade Valentines and brighten someone’s day! I’ll bet you’ll end up brightening your day as well! Maybe you have an elderly neighbor who could use some help around their yard or someone to simply chat with for a while. Offer to babysit for friends so they can go out and you can entertain the children with Valentine crafts. Find joy in service to others. I’m a rock painter. I spent the morning hiding Valentine rocks that I’d painted in the hopes of bringing a little joy to someone walking by. Small gestures can bring great rewards.
Valentine’s Day is for everyone. It’s all in how you look at it. Think about what you can give instead of what you can get and make this your best Valentine’s Day yet!
I hope I have given you some things to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day in new, meaningful ways, but if you still crave that heart shaped box full of chocolates, buy the damn box for yourself! I recommend waiting until the day after Valentine’s Day when they’re half price! Happy Valentine’s Day Dear Ones. xoxo
For a delicious chocolate treat, bake up some Chocolate Shortbread Cookies for your Valentines!
Valentine Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 1 3/4 C all purpose flour
- 2/3 C Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 C plus 2 TB granulated sugar
- 1 C unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- optional: powdered sugar, chocolate chips, candy melts, sprinkles
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together. Set aside
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Blend in the vanilla extract. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until combined. Roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick, making sure the dough is evenly rolled throughout. Chill for thirty minutes in waxed paper.
Preheat oven 350 degrees F and put oven rack in the middle position. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat baking mat. Cut out the cookies with cookie cutters of desired shape, making sure each batch is relatively similar in size for even baking. Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 15 minutes, or until crisp and firm. Let cool on baking sheet for three minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
Decorate with powdered sugar, candy melt drizzle, or melted chocolate and sprinkles. Enjoy!