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why a zero-expectations valentine's day will make you the happiest

why a zero-expectations valentine's day will make you the happiest

I love love. But the thing about Valentine’s Day is that there’s a lot of pressure to PROVE love. How does one even begin to accomplish such a feat? Chocolate? Dinner reservations? Jewelry? I don’t think so.

My favourite Valentine’s Day was spent in India with my best friend Emily. It was my first trip abroad and I was still navigating the culture shock that hit me like a wave every time I turned a new corner.

There was something different about the way the city of Mumbai celebrated the day of love. People draped flowers on storefronts that weren’t theirs. Red and pink decorations covered everything from restaurants to passenger buses. Strangers wished me a ‘happy Valentine’s Day.’ I think what seemed different to me about the way India embraced the day was that it was less about a commercialized holiday and more about genuinely celebrating love. There’s an idea I can get behind.

A couple watches the sunset on Valentine's Day in Mumbai, 2010.

A couple watches the sunset on Valentine's Day in Mumbai, 2010.

Last year around this time I was perusing a stationary shop when an idea crossed my mind. For one year I would write down memories, inside jokes and tape down ticket stubs from our relationship into an agenda book. I started it February 14th, 2016 and wrote my last note today. There wasn’t something to write every day, or even every weekend. Sometimes, an entry was just one word - but one word that I knew would make him laugh. Reading back on the last year of moments we shared brought me more joy than I ever could’ve asked for on Valentine’s Day.

I know what you’re thinking - this is very thoughtful and adorable. Or maybe you are barfing. Either way, despite the thought and time that went into this gift what I expect back, is nothing.

Disappointment stems from reality not meeting your expectations. And the reality is, my partner is amazing every day, and I don’t need him to do anything extra on a day that was invented to get people to spend money. I have a feeling that many of you in relationships think your partner is amazing too. Do you know what doesn’t make them feel amazing? Acting disappointed when you believe they haven’t done enough for you on a silly holiday.

What resonated so strongly with me about that day I spent in Mumbai was that there wasn’t a sadness surrounding the idea of being single. People who weren't in relationships weren’t left out of the holiday. The day was about all types of love in any kind of relationship. Perhaps our Western culture should adapt this - encouraging people to write love letters to their best friends, call their parents or give their partner an extra hug. Make the day more about celebrating love and less about spending money.

Last month I was looking through a friend’s Instagram photos when I came across a specific shot that caught my eye. It was a photo of my boyfriend walking, holding a flower behind his back. The day that photo was taken we were travelling around northern Manitoba and stopped in a small town to take a break. My favourite memory from that day was feeling at peace, watching some kids play in the water followed by my boyfriend walking up to me and presenting me with a small yellow flower he had behind his back. A moment that may have gotten lost in my mind had I not come across this photo.

Photo by Kyle Schappert

People show love in different ways. The more we get to know someone, the better we become at recognizing those ways, and the deeper our relationship grows. Whether it’s a memory book on Valentine’s Day, or picking a flower on an average day, love is meant to be celebrated, and appreciated, every day.

no bake granola bars

no bake granola bars

vegan hot cocoa

vegan hot cocoa

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