Roses are red

Valentine’s Day is not the enemy. I repeat, Valentine’s Day is not the enemy.

To be fair, it’s a flawed holiday. It tells us that we have one day a year for grand gestures – one day to prove to our loved ones how much we care. It convinces us to buy heart-shaped chocolates and cheesy greeting cards and chalky-tasting conversation hearts that say ‘Be Mine.’

On the other hand, it’s the one day a year when people go out of their way to tell people that they love them (plus, it’s socially acceptable to eat as much chocolate as you want).

We as Americans definitely like to debate about our holidays (for example, our annual argument over ‘happy holidays’ and keeping the ‘Christ’ in ‘Christmas’), but few are as hotly contested as Valentine’s Day. When it comes to Feb. 14, there is no middle ground – or is there?

People in relationships love the holiday, singles hate it. Couples eat out at fancy restaurants, singles eat ice cream out of the carton. We all know the stereotypes, but who says that couples have to pour a small fortune into an evening to prove their love, or that singles have to spend the day wallowing in misery? Why do we have to take a holiday that is supposed to remind us to appreciate the people we care about and turn it into a standoff between the haves and have nots?

At its core, Valentine’s Day is not a greeting card holiday or a commercial exploitation. It’s a reminder that we, as human beings, crave connections with others. We designate an entire day to love because love is great. I’m not just talking about significant others. I’m talking about the friend who invites you over when you’re having relationship problems, the people who come out to support you the first time you speak in front of a crowd and the family members who make sure you leave every trip home with more food for your pantry. You don’t need a boyfriend or girlfriend to be able to appreciate a day devoted to all of the someone specials in our lives.

So branch out this Valentine’s Day. Call home and tell your mom that you love her (it’ll make her day). Slip your roommates some conversation hearts. Hug your best friend. Enjoy Valentine’s Day regardless of your relationship status because, in the end, it’s just another freezing February day to make the most of.

And if all else fails, make sure to share the ice cream.