It was Valentine’s Day last week, which may invoke some eye rolls for some people because after all, it is a big capitalist holiday designed to sell you heart-shaped chocolate, red roses, and stuffed teddy bears. Even though it is all that, it can also be a time where you can just let your friends, family, significant others, or any other loved ones know that you care about them and appreciate them in your life. Of course, you don’t need a holiday to do that but it’s a nice reminder to do that.
My Dad, when we were younger always used to make an effort on Valentine’s Day to do something a little special for all of us. In the US it’s a holiday more focused on love, romantic, platonic, familial, or otherwise. So, celebrating V Day became a little tradition in our house. We always get some chocolate or some flowers, this year we got both because my Dad is just that type of person.
What love looks like
Really though, my Dad is the guy that every other guy hates because he makes them look bad with the amount of effort he puts into his gifts and gestures for my Mom. He’s where I get my hopeless romantic sentiments from and my unrealistically high expectations for what my future partner will be like. Even the smallest gifts or gestures you can tell he cares deeply about the person he does it for, there’s no question in that. And that’s what love, platonic or romantic or familial, should be like. There shouldn’t be ever a moment when you question someone’s intention, it should be certain and definitive because love is more than a feeling, it’s an action.
Love can look like a lot of things. One conversation that I am constantly having with my friends is what our love languages are, which is basically just the way in which you give and receive love. There are five: words of affirmation; physical touch; gifts; acts of service; and quality time. We all to some degree enjoy all five, but there are usually a standout few that rise to the top. For example, I prefer someone telling me they appreciate me rather than getting a hug from someone. And perhaps it’s a bit of nonsense and of course it’s not always how relationships or friendships work but it’s nice to know how to love someone. Even if we remove the whole love languages thing, the way we care for people is important and knowing how people like to receive love can be a nice way of showing someone you care.
We can sometimes get caught up in life or maybe in our own insecurities, that we forget to let the people around us know how much we truly love them. It might seem odd to just say that out of the blue to people, and there’s some truth in that and it’s not the only way we can tell or show people that we love them. But it is important to say it and mean it and show it, in whatever way you express it or way the other person will appreciate it. And if that is blurting out an awkward, perhaps ill timed “I love you,” then that is the way to do it and there’s a beauty in that. There is beauty because love should not be held in, it should be shouted, proclaimed, and whispered to who ever needs to hear.
There’s a phrase from the book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, that one of the characters, Hassan, says to his friend Amir all the time, it’s: “For you, a thousand times over”. It’s a beautiful phrase, because of the commitment in it, the unconditional nature of it. It’s a sentiment that we need to commit to more and phrase we should say more to the people we love in our life. There can be small ways of saying it, helping a friend with an errand, giving a loved one a hug, just anyway to tell that person in your life that you care, that you love them.
So, next year use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to tell anyone you love them or use any other day, because I know they will appreciate it.
Hope Pratt is an American Australian starting my first year at University. My family and I lived in Afghanistan for 6 years before moving to Australia. I am currently living in Sydney, which has been my longest home yet.