When most people think of Valentine’s Day, they conjure up images of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, expensive meals out, and the extensive workouts in the gym it will take to burn off those extra calories. There can be so much stress with this holiday—pressure to give the right thing to the right person, and the hope that you will get a gift from your special someone—a hope that might be shattered.
But maybe it shouldn’t be that way.
This Valentine’s Day, I had a new experience, something that warmed my heart more than any box of chocolate-drizzled decadence could. With a couple of my friends, I made crafts for older people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We made cheerful decorations, like googly-eyed love bugs made from pink, red, and white pompoms, construction paper linked chains, and other cheerful favors made from felt and foam paper to brighten up their rooms and hallways during this time of year. A lot of people living in these facilities have had their spouses or cherished friends pass away before them, and their children live far away or are too busy with their own kids to pay their parents a visit. Having decorations and crafts for them makes them feel included on Valentine’s Day. While pompom love bugs might not fill the void in someone’s heart that is left by the loss of a loved one, it will at least make them remember that someone cares.
There are so many meaningful ways to fill this holiday other than just waiting at your mailbox for a Valentine to arrive like Charlie Brown so famously did. Think of all the people around you who feel forgotten or lonely this holiday and reach out to them. Do you have elderly neighbors? Do you have new people in your neighborhood? Do you know any military families who might have a loved one deployed at this time of year? Now couldn’t be a better time to bake some cookies, give cards, or pay a special visit to these people who might need some happiness in their lives.
Doing this benefits the giver and the receiver. I felt so wonderful putting others before myself this Valentine’s Day. Knowing what I created, however small, will bring joy to the heart of someone who might be looking for a smile. I feel like this was just as much of a gift to me as it was to them.
But all this aside, I’m still planing on over-indulging in chocolates.
And if Ryan Gosling hand-delivers them, all the better.