It all started in July. I was in my boyfriend’s basement, cleaning out old cupboards when I came across it. A bright pink, heart-shaped tin.

I held it up, wondering whether it was a gift from a former girlfriend or a family member. Nope. Neither. It was from his best friend. I laughed, wondering why his friend had gotten him such a thing. He then explained that they have been each other’s Valentine for the past few years. I remember thinking this was the sweetest (and funniest) thing I’d heard in a while, and moved on with my cleaning.

Fast forward to today, and everyone has joked that I’m going to get ditched this year for his best friend. It is tradition after all. After lots of jokes, I am realizing that it is, in fact, a reality. Yes, my boyfriend is going on a Valentine’s Day date with his best friend, and I think it’s amazing.  

Valentine’s Day in the media

Valentine’s Day has become a loaded concept. We are told that we need to buy jewelry or go out on fancy dinner dates at overpriced restaurants to show we love our partners. We are inundated with images of beautiful couples strolling through the streets, hand in hand, beaming with love and happiness. Just watching these kinds of ads can evoke feelings of loneliness, cynicism, and bitterness.

Studies have shown that Valentine’s Day can cause anxiety for several reasons. Some people feel that they haven’t done enough for their partner and are stressed that what they have planned will inevitably be a letdown. Others are anxious because they're reminded that they’re single and alone at an already tough time of the year. If you approach the day from this media-influenced perspective, it can seem pretty bleak. Luckily, there's another way.

A few ways to make Valentine's Day special 

Instead of rolling your eyes watching ads of candlelit dinners, think about how you can spread the love this February 14th. Many decide to shun the holiday entirely, but you can take this day as an opportunity to be altruistic. Think of someone who might be feeling lonely this time of year and pay them a visit.

Do you have an elderly neighbor who would love some company? Go see them! Pay a compliment to someone who looks like they’re having a long day. Are there organizations putting on events you could volunteer with this week? These simple acts of kindness seem obvious, but we don’t do them enough.

Valentine's Day can be a chance to do a fun activity with an old friend.

Valentine’s Day can also be a great excuse to reconnect with someone you have lost touch with. Send them a note to tell them you’re thinking of them.

Speaking of which, another thing that Valentine’s Day is great for – sending handwritten notes! Whether it is a card for a loved one, or leaving an anonymous note for a crush, in the age of social media and technology, the art of handwritten notes is going extinct. Let’s resurrect it, at least for a day.  

Keeping it simple

Valentine’s Day should be about spending time with your loved ones and reminding them how much you appreciate them. This can come in the form of having your best friends come over to watch movies or plan a fun winter activity like skating or going to an outdoor festival with a big group. It can be catching up over a family dinner. It can even mean curling up with your dog on the couch!

This Thursday night I will be at home with my first and favourite Valentine, my dad. We will probably have a cozy dinner with the rest of my family, and yes, I’m sure there will be chocolate involved. My boyfriend will be enjoying a burger and a beer with his oldest friend. To me, this is exactly how I want to spend this holiday.  

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