No, I'm not in a relationship; Valentine's Day is about more than romance.

Share story

Here’s a surprise for you: I, a single 21-year-old woman, love Valentine’s Day. In fact, it’s my favorite holiday.

There are so many reasons why I love Valentine’s Day. I love all the pink and red, the flowers, balloons, getting funny meme-inspired Valentine cards. But most of all, I love what Valentine’s Day stands for. I love being reminded that there are so many people in my life that I care about.

For me, Valentine’s Day is not tied to gushy romance or obligation. I love it for its core concept. It’s about love — and what’s not to love about love?

More on Valentine's Day

(From left) Julia Lymar and Yanis Matison play pinball in the back room at Shorty’s in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle on Tuesday, February 7, 2017.
(From left) Julia Lymar and Yanis Matison play pinball in the back room at Shorty’s in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle on Tuesday, February 7, 2017.

When I bring up Valentine’s Day to my friends I’m met with a mix of reactions. Mostly eye rolls, a few shrugged shoulders and the occasional excited smile. Even when I told people in the newsroom how much I love Valentine’s Day, I got a lot of strong “whys,” shocked looks and “I absolutely hate it” responses.

It’s not that I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing, over-the-top Valentine’s Days. Actually, my only official Valentine was my eighth-grade boyfriend, who gave me a lollipop in second period. Other Valentine’s Days saw bad first dates, fresh breakups and being stuck at home alone in my college house for the long weekend. I’m not complaining, though. I also met my first love on Valentine’s Day, and for as long as I can remember, I have received so much love and appreciation from those closest to me.

As a kid, I would spend hours addressing valentines to classmates, agonizing over the perfect cartoon inspired pop-up card to give my crush and sneaking extra candy into my best friend’s heart-shaped construction paper folder. Spending half a school day eating candy hearts and overanalyzing the Super Mario card with a flirty innuendo from the boy who sat next to me was always the best day of my school year. The holiday hasn’t changed much for me since those days, and that’s probably why I haven’t adopted a cynical view of Valentine’s Day.

Most Read Life Stories

Flash sale! Save 90% on digital access.

Now I celebrate in a very similar way to my fourth-grade Valentine’s Day party. Instead of eating candy hearts, I drink wine. Instead of reading into cartoon cards, I read into flirty text messages. I still make cards for my friends and find a way to do something special.

These past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to find many great valentines in my best friends. We celebrate our friendship on Valentine’s Day. We hang out with each other instead of  boyfriends. Think Leslie Knope’s Galentine’s Day meets Taylor Swift’s girl squad. This year, our plans are a secret Santa-esque gift exchange, splurging on a nice meal and going to see “50 Shades Darker.”

A lot of the disdain toward Valentine’s Day comes from the pressure to celebrate the right way or the pressure to be in a relationship. But there are so many ways to be in love other than a romantic relationship. The day is about celebrating the love from all  relationships in life — parents, siblings or even pets — not just the romantic ones.

So this Valentine’s Day, when 99 percent of you are annoyed with the heart-shaped decorations and abundance of sappy couples, remember that this day is more than an excuse to buy chocolate or another obligation on the calendar. It’s a day to remind us how lucky we all are to have love in our lives.

And that’s why I love it so much.