So here I am, eighteen faithful blog-followers o' mine, on a cold, sleety Monday night with Madigan-drool on my favorite socks thinking about Valentine's Day.
I really love Valentine's Day. It gets a bad rap being the "made-up, commercial holiday" that it is. And yeah, I agree, we shouldn't wait until Feb. 14th to pull out the violins and roses and big romantic gestures. Really, we should be saying, I love you, to EVERYONE we love as often as possible, every day. February 14th should roll around and our friends and family and partners should be able to say, "Ugh, enough with the LOVE already! We've had it up to HERE with you loving everyone!!"
Still and all, Valentine's Day is a unique opportunity for all of us - married, single, dating, engaged, celibate, and/or otherwise occupied. I mean, here we have this ready-made holiday, this whole DAY devoted to the idea of love (a holiday to love people? WOW!). I wish we could abandon the notion that Valentine's Day (the day that supposedly celebrates LOVE, the most amazing four-letter-word that ever was) meant spending money or that it only applies to couples.
I have my own plans for Valentine's Day -romantic and otherwise - but this post is not about me. If I'm allowed to challenge you, as you all continue to challenge me, then I challenge you, fair and lovely reader, to find someone to love this Valentine's Day. Take a moment, take an hour, take the whole day...and say "I love you" with not just your words or your money or those delicious pink and red striped Hershey's Hugs that I really, REALLY like (cough, cough, Kyle Wellman). Say it with your actions.
Here are some cool ways to say "I love you" to a friend, a neighbor, or a stranger you might not ever meet:
- Check out V-Day, an organization that works to end violence against women and girls. Every year around Valentine's Day, hundreds of productions of The Vagina Monologues are staged, as well as countless fundraisers and events. 90% of proceeds go to help local rape crisis centers, etc. This year, 10% of the money raised will go to help women in Haiti in V-Day's Spotlight Campaign! Most of us are blessed enough to live in safety without the daily/constant threat of sexual assault/violence. To find out where the play is being staged near you or to donate to a fundraiser or other event, click the link below!
And check out the short Spotlight campaign video from last year's V-Day. This video talks about the hundreds of thousands of women and children who are systematically raped as a war tactic in the Democratic Republic of Congo RIGHT NOW and how things are changing because women are gathering together and speaking out. V-Day contributors are able to donate to City of Joy, a safe haven for survivors of rape and brutal violence. WARNING: This video is sad and disturbing, I know, but I hope you will take the time to watch it, if you can because it's also EMPOWERING and EXCITING!
- Donate blood! You don't have to find a blood drive - find a donation center near you and stop in when you can! I just read that only 3 in 100 Americans give blood...
- Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 12-18.
Check out their website for tons of ideas!
- Buy beautiful Valentine's Day gifts through Fair Trade which helps make sure that the people who produce the beautiful things you wear, eat and love are receiving fair pay for their work. Many local coffee shops and bookstores sell Fair Trade chocolate and other products but if you can't find what you're looking for, be sure to visit their website for lots of tempting goodies that you can feel good about giving!
THE best chocolate I have ever had...
"I have found the paradox," Mother Teresa said, "That if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." And we all know how that woman loved!!
So, Valentines (for you are ALL my Valentines), I urge you to love bigger than you thought possible in ways closer to home than you ever imagined...
I hope you'll find some way to spread love this February and that you'll comment and tell me about it! Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the people that make me want to love a little bit more.