Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs


       Be Your Own Valentine -2012 Edition

Growing up, Valentines Day was barely a blip on my family’s radar. It amounted to a quick peck on the check and a hug. Sometimes my dad would surprise us and buy almond bark from Kegg’s Candy, dark chocolate, of course. We knew that this was really for Mom, but my brother and I enjoyed sharing it with her.

Fast forward to parenthood: suddenly, I was caught up in all the hearts and confections, jumping in to make sure my daughters were swathed in a pink and red cloud of heart shaped everything from headbands and cookies to erasers and cuddly stuffed animals. I confess. I counted myself among the masses that fall victim to believing that Hallmark holidays are genuine occasions that require us into full frontal consumerism.

Celebration or Marketing Ploy?

In my opinion, Valentine’s Day has been hijacked and transformed by American culture into a big day for retailers.  I want to meet the marketing genius who figured out that this could be an opportunity to promote mass market greeting cards and other paraphernalia. The US Greeting Card Association estimates that almost 200 million valentine cards are purchased each year. If you count all the cards exchanged in elementary schools, the number approaches one billion. Yes, you read that correctly. That has to be enough paper to wrap the earth in a heart-shaped bow, doesn’t it?

What a Valentine Needs

Do we really need to buy cards, chocolates, flowers and gifts to express our heartfelt sentiments to those important people in our lives? Does a table for two on February 14 validate a relationship? I am romantic and sentimental, but have come to realize that all of the Hallmark holidays may be trying to force feed us an idealized, commercial view of what a good relationship needs to thrive. I’m all for setting aside time to celebrate love in all its shapes and sizes, but Valentine’s Day has turned into the Have’s and Have-not’s.

All of attention paid to Valentine’s Day makes many of us want to crawl in a dark corner if we don’t have that special someone to celebrate the day. Let’s take the day back to its honorable intent: conveying our love and appreciation to the special people in our lives.

Be Your Own Valentine

Take control and don’t wait around for someone else to make the day meaningful for you. Celebrate YOU. Have some fun and surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Whether or not you’re in a romantic relationship at the moment, you can be proactive and enjoy the day, not dread it. It’s up to you, whether you want  a day to yourself or if you want to share it with someone. Last year, LWP Chris and I were in Panama with another good friend, Susanna. The three of us had more fun and laughed until it was time to go to bed. That was a perfect way to spend the day.

This year, I’m happy to say that I’m once again out of the country and away from all the Valentine hoopla. Each of us should find a way to escape the commercial trappings and find a way to be our own valentine, whether that is alone or with the special people in your life. Happy Valentine’s Day

How are you showing yourself some love this year?

Janet Walkow is the Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Drug Dynamics Institute at The University of Texas and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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