by Brittney Thompson

In elementary school I loved Valentine’s Day. I can still remember the excitement of decorating my little brown paper lunch bag and taping it to the end of my desk. Then, all the kids would go around with their little manufactured Winnie the Pooh, Star Wars, and Disney valentines that they had bought with their moms the day before and place them in each classmate’s bag. The candy, the cards and the punny little notes on the inside were so fun, it was impossible not to like Valentine’s Day.

But lately it seems like the holiday has taken a turn for the cynical and exclusive. I think I first noticed it when I reached high school. Gone were the little notes for each person in the class and instead every period I had to watch students deliver a candy-gram valentine that was never meant for me. Roses were handed out to two or three popular girls in class while the rest of us sat and wondered if we would be so lucky the next period. I think that is when Valentine’s Day became the snarky Singles Awareness Day (or SAD) for me and probably many others.

Since then I have never really paid much attention to Valentine’s Day. Because I have never had a “significant other” to share it with, I’ve always kind of ignored it. But this year I decided I wanted to celebrate the real meaning of Valentine’s Day: love. When I look at my life I recognize how blessed I am to have so many wonderful and true friends. And this got me thinking: why can’t Valentine’s Day be about friendship and fun like it used to be in those elementary days gone by? So this year not only am I recognizing the holiday, I am celebrating it.

My roommates and I are hosting a party for all of our friends. Like any good party there will be plenty of food (themed of course, with recipes found on Pinterest) and games. But I wanted to bring back that special feeling of childhood too. So there will be a table with brown paper bags and little Valentines cards for everyone to write notes to one another in the spirit of friendship. For many, Valentine’s Day will remain a romanticized excuse for card companies to make money. But for me? Well, I hope it’s something a little more meaningful and a lot more fun as I share it with those closest to me.

How will you spend your Valentine’s Day?