I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is the price of stamps went up again. As of May 12, 2008, it will cost 42¢ (an extra penny) to purchase a stamp. The good news is I don't think this will encourage or discourage anyone from sending letters. The good news on top of that is that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I can hear some grumbles in the background saying, Isn't that bad news? It's understandable — nobody likes being force fed a holiday. I think we all know, however, that this is a holiday you can neither run nor hide from.
I made my peace with Valentine's Day a few years ago. I was newly single and the sea of red cards and candy I had to walk through every time I wanted gum from CVS made me sick. I know it had probably been that way every previous year, but you're hypersensitive to these things after just breaking up with someone. It felt like every drug store in Manhattan was mocking me. Once that particular Valentine's season was over, I promised I'd never feel so perpetually sorry for myself again.
Now, a few years later, and still single, I love Valentine's Day. I use the day as an excuse to tell everyone I love in my life that I love them. Yesterday, I mailed a handful of Valentines to family members and single gal pals — one of them just broke off an engagement and I know she could use some platonic love. These days, instead of wondering where the love for me is, I extend my love for others — knowing it'll come back to me at some point in time.
I can see that Valentine's Day is no easier for people in relationships. There's so much pressure to do the perfect thing and expectations tend to be on the way-too-high side. When I was in college my boyfriend and I protested Valentine's Day and exchanged romantic gestures on St. Patrick's Day instead — we're both Irish. If you do want some special service from your love on V-Day (and there's nothing wrong with that) then I suggest being honest about it. Don't say, "We don't have to do anything for Valentine's Day," only to kick and scream when your partner really doesn't do anything. It's a tough day also if your relationship has been troubled lately, and you're not necessarily in the mood for love. In that case, maybe go out to dinner and discuss ways to get your relationship back on track — instead of pretending everything is perfect. And if you're madly in love, then enjoy! There are many circumstances under which one could be dealing with Valentine's Day. Keep in mind that we're all in this together.
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Books mentioned in this post
Samara O'Shea is the author of For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing