The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Growing up, Valentine’s Day was always one of the best days of the year, right up there with Christmas and my birthday. First off, my favorite color was, is and always will be pink, so Valentine’s Day decorations always felt like they were designed just for me. I also loved picking out Valentine’s cards from the store—Disney princess cards one year, Hannah Montana cards the next—and sitting at the kitchen table with a list of my classmates, determining which card matched each of their personalities best.
But the best part of Valentine’s Day, by a long shot, was my family’s Valentine’s Day celebration. My mom would tell us all to hide up in one of our rooms, and my three younger siblings and I would sit on one bed, giddy with excitement. We would wait for five minutes at most (but it felt like a lifetime). Sometimes my sister would press her ear against the door, trying to listen but, forever the responsible oldest child, I would get upset and tell her she was going to ruin the surprise.
Then my mom would yell, “Come on down!” We would scramble down the stairs and into the living room and she would hand each of us a bag of candy and a handmade card, which I held as though it was sacred, until it was my turn to open it.
Looking back on it, our family Valentine’s Day celebrations were so uneventful, so simple, that it’s almost laughable. Each card had a fill-in-the-blanks poem on it, written by my mom in Crayola marker. These poems were about as poorly-written as you could possibly imagine: Sometimes at school/ You do arts and crafts/ For your valentine/ Look in the _ _ _ _!
“The bath!” one of us would squeal, and we would all race up to the bathroom, where, sure enough, a Valentine’s gift was waiting.
As vivid as this memory is for me, I don’t remember a single one of the gifts my mom got me. The only Valentine’s gift I distinctly remember is the year my little brother got a Chauncey Billups jersey, back when he played for the Pistons. Other than that, the gifts all fade together, hiding somewhere in the back of my memory. All I know is that I loved Valentine’s Day; and that’s because, every year, my mom was my Valentine.
I know the family Valentine’s Day celebration was just as important to my mom as it was to me. Every year she would remind us, “This isn’t my idea, it’s my mom’s idea. Grandma Shosh did the same thing for us when we were kids.”
I never met Grandma Shosh, but I’m often told how well we would have gotten along. My immediate family would never consider watching a musical (except for maybe the Super Bowl halftime show) but, in fifth grade, I still announced that my passion was theatre. We were at a family reunion two hours north of home during tech week of Annie and my mom drove me all the way home for rehearsal every single night. On the way back up to the family reunion each night, when my face was still plastered with stage makeup and my mom was exhausted from all the driving, my job was to look carefully at every sign on the highway so that we wouldn’t miss Starbucks–because vanilla lattes were a quintessential part of our drive. As we sipped at the milky sweetness, my mom told me that Grandma Shosh also would have preferred musicals to soccer, just like me. I’m excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Grandma Shosh in heaven someday.
It’s hard for me to imagine my mom and her five siblings as little kids, waiting excitedly for Grandma Shosh to hide their valentines around the house. But, then again, it’s hard to imagine my siblings and me doing that anymore either. As the years passed on, we started doing homework and texting our friends as we waited for my mom to hide the presents. I’m sure at some point, we asked if she could just give them to us instead, so we could go back to studying or watching Netflix or whatever else we were doing. Before I knew it, I didn’t even live with my family anymore and my mom was texting me, asking what would be a good time to drop my valentine off at my dorm.
I know single people, especially college students, are supposed to be bitter about Valentine’s Day. We’re supposed to angrily remind people that it’s a Hallmark holiday, that it exists just to drive sales of chocolate and teddy bears, but I’ve never seen that as a bad thing.
Each year, as I see ads around campus for Candy Grams and coffee shops start to boast about some sort of pink variation of their signature drink, I’m thankful that in a world of chaos, we have at least a day dedicated to love. I could be single the rest of my life, but I know that my mom will always be my Valentine — just like Grandma Shosh will always be hers.