more than a hallmark holiday

I’ll admit that I don’t put Valentine’s day on any sort of special holiday platform. Mr. M and I exchange gifts and “celebrate” the holiday, but we don’t put any added pressure on the day. Lots of people I know like to bash it with the label of “Hallmark” holiday and refuse to acknowledge it as any sort of celebration.

And I wouldn’t be too opposed to that idea, if I hadn’t ever seen Valentine’s Day in South Central LA. [side note: I taught middle school in “South Los Angeles” in the early 2000’s]

If you don’t have an image in your head of what South Central is like from its depictions in the media and popular movies, I’ll give you two words: dull and gray. The buildings are washed out and old, nothing has new paint on it, and people are scared to wear any bold colors that would bring notice to themselves. There’s just a whole lot of concrete, not much green, and a lot of life hidden in that neighborhood. There were glimpses of green in the spring on the few trees there, or the parks that I would drive by, but in the winter it was just gloomy and gray.

And then Valentine’s Day hit!

[source: Fire Monkey Fish]

Every street corner and intersection had a vendor, if not 4 of them. There were balloons and flowers and stuffed animals everywhere the eye could see. And people were out on the street carrying handfuls of gifts and buying things for everyone they knew in their life. Kids came to school with endless amounts of “stuff” to give to their friends. They bought us, the teachers, gifts of every shape and size. (Seriously… ask me about the awesome baby-faced tiger I got… ) Everyone was happy and joyous and there was color everywhere you looked. And students loved being at school and seemed to like each other and their families and just life in general. The neighborhood was alive and happy… something that doesn’t happen too often there.

That’s when I realized that Valentine’s Day is whatever you choose to make of it. It can be a day to celebrate love in every single form… from family to friends to your partner in life. And you can celebrate with chocolate or roses and everything in between. But it can really truly be an amazing jubilant day of just love… if you make it that way.

I hope you have a chance to share some love and bring a little extra “color” to your world today through the holiday. Send a text, post on someone’s Facebook wall, make a call, or just simply shout, “I LOVE YOU” to the world. It’s the one day where the world taps you on the shoulder to remind you to do it… and don’t miss that chance!


  • talda

    i have always loved valentine’s day since it always just seemed to be about love in general. an idea propagated by school parties and valentine’s card swaps with classmates and most importantly, valentine’s gifts from my parents. getting that kind of great reinforcement at such a young age made me to appreciate this day for what it is: a perfect excuse to tell people you love them.

  • zoe

    I don’t think it’s “just” a Hallmark holiday. Sure, we should be telling the people around us that we love them everyday, but sometimes in the bustle of life, it’s nice that there’s a day to remind us to show our love. :)

  • Carrie @ The Silver Lining

    Kim, OMG! It was exactly the same teaching in Las Vegas! The streets were packed with vendors selling every Valentine’s gift you could imagine, and the kids went nuts celebrating. Huge balloons, huge stuffed animals, cards, candy, flowers, the works. I was so incredibly surprised (pleasantly surprised!) my first year of teaching at how the gifts just poured in from my students. Candy, flowers, little teacher accessories, piles of cards….it was amazing! I had to carry it home in a grocery bag! You’re right, it was the most genuine and sincere Valentine’s Day ever. I felt truly loved and appreciated by my students. So nice that you had the same experience!