A window inside life at Augustana College

A Valentines Day Blog-Off

Well friends, it’s officially been a whole term since my last blog entry (I always seem to find inspiration during finals week to write something, procrastination, maybe?). Along with persistent prodding from my father, my main motivation for writing this entry came from fellow blogger Matt Hallberg. We were at chapel one night and Matt reminded me that I had not blogged in awhile and sugggested that we have a “blog-off” and both write entries about the same topic. I told Matt that if he picked the topic, I would write the first entry. Matt, after some thought, chose Valentine’s Day as our topic, which seemed simple enough until I actually started thinking about what to write. But alas, I don’t make promises I can’t keep so, Matt, and world, here are my thoughts:

This morning at church I was reminiscing with my friends Chris and Kim about how Valentine’s day has changed since we were younger. My most distinct memories of Valentines Day in elementary school are of the dreaded process of addressing valentines to all my classmates. For being intended for children, those little Rugrats and Looney Tunes valentines cards sure were romantic (or at least they seemed so in third grade!) How could I possibly give a little card that said “Be Mine” or “I think you’re special” to those BOYS in my class??? Ew, they might think I LIKED them!!!

Although I feel like boxed valentines for kids today have been toned down a bit to make them more classroom friendly (i.e. “I think you’re cool!” and “Let’s hang out!”), they apparently cause just as much distress for today’s kids as they did for my friends and me. I was babysitting the other night and was left with the task of helping one of the kids address valentines for his class. After some debate and struggle, he finally declared, “This is awkward!” When I told Kim and Chris the story this morning, we all got a good giggle out of it, being able to relate to his inevitable predicament.

Earlier this evening I was at the grocery store and walked past the aisle of chocolate and flowers and Valentine’s gifts. Of course it was packed with people buying last-minute tokens of affection for that special guy or girl. You might think this would be a place with people smiling and chatting with one another, all there for the same purpose of trying to find the right thing to buy to tell that special person in their life how much they are loved. But as I walked by I noticed that the aisle was completely silent and a little stuffy with each person avoiding eye contact as if the people were almost embarrassed to be there purchasing things in the name of love. After pondering the situation for awhile, I came to one conclusion: “This is awkward!”

This theme started to bother me- why is Valentine’s Day so… awkward? It was when we were little and it still is today. After all, it is just a day to celebrate love– a day to celebrate the thing that we all try so hard to find, and are so distressed about when we lose it, and that is so powerful that it can knock you off your feet if it hits you when you’re not expecting it. Love is such a central part of our lives, so why do we have such a problem with celebrating it on this one day of the year?

My first guess is that people think its kind of awkward to be told what day they have to express their love for their significant other. Normally, expressions of affection come with some kind of natural, meaningful event such as an anniversary, a reunion after a long separation, or a really good conversation. I guess it is kind of awkward to be told that you have to be on a “love high” on February 14th because Saint Valentine said so. It’s that same kind of phenomenon as when mom makes you “try” to use the bathroom before a long car ride “even if you don’t feel like you have to go.” Its just kind of…awkward.

I think the explanation might run even a little deeper. In our culture, we’re not really accustomed to such outward expressions of our inner feelings. We typically keep our deepest inner feelings to ourselves and our partner and maybe spill to a few close friends. However, it’s not common for the cashier at the grocery store to know that you’re madly in love with someone. Valentine’s Day violates this social norm, I mean somebody has to ring up your box of 54 chocolates, 3-foot teddy bear and voice-recordable vase with 4 dozen roses, right? The fact that a stranger knows about your deepest feelings can make things, well, a bit…awkward.

All of this makes me stop and think about our behavior the other 364 days of the year. Maybe a little more love wouldn’t be such a bad thing. After all, who doesn’t like to know that they’re loved? Maybe we shouldn’t be so hesitant to end our phone calls with an “I love you” or our personal encounters with an extra hug. Maybe we can find time in our schedules to write a little note to those important people in our lives telling them how much they mean to us, or find the courage to forgive a little faster, or listen a little longer.

I’m not saying that’s easy. Loving can be uncomfortable because it makes you vulnerable. If people know how much we care, they also know how much it could hurt if that love is lost. But I think it’s worth it. I’m not willing to take the risk that I will leave this earth without the people in my life having known how much they meant to me. So this Valentine’s Day, I think we should nix the awkward. Let’s rewind a couple months and take some advice from one of our favorite Christmas icons, Buddy the Elf, and not be afraid to yell, “I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!”

Yes, I will be proudly handing out Fun Dip Valentines this Valentines Day!

Have a lovely Valentines Day, everybody!!!

Love always,

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