Being able-bodied and single for so many years, I have to say that Valentine’s Day used to cause me a lot of angst. If I didn’t have a boyfriend, that fact was made painfully obvious. And if I did, there was the constant worry over what he would or wouldn’t do and the terrible disappointment of not having my expectations met. Either way, I lost.
Now, I actually enjoy the holiday. Without troubling over whether I’m alone or just with someone who makes me feel like I am, I can really get into it. I usually buy valentines for family and friends alike and Mom and I trade red cellophane hearts stuffed with chocolate and gifts so tacky they’re cute, like last year’s plush bumblebee that sang Be My Baby.
I think everyone (who doesn’t have the perfect gift-giving spouse or significant other) should know this joy without becoming disabled. That’s why I’m suggesting that every February 14th become a day of benevolence and general consideration to everyone, even strangers. You know, like the whole random acts of kindness thing, except more concentrated. Make it a day less about romantic love and partners and more about just being nice.
One of the big perks of disability is getting to see lots of human kindness. My mom jokes she likes to take me out cause we might get our bill paid. Seriously! It’s happened at two different restaurants. Some kind stranger has picked up our tab. Another time, a friend and I went shopping at a consignment store. In recounting the total, we figured I got the “wheelchair discount.” It was cheap in there, but not that cheap! And I can’t count the number of times I’ve been walking Frankie and someone has offered to pick up his poop. Can you imagine?
I think that kind of generosity should extend to everyone, not just the handicapped. And if it’s done on Valentine’s Day (or the entire month of February,) a lot of people can avoid a lot of holiday-fueled anxiety. Now, I’m not suggesting you start picking up after some stranger’s dog, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
♥ Open doors for people behind you.
♥ Let someone with just a few items in front of you at the checkout.
♥ Send e-cards to friends.
♥ Don’t forget your “thank you” wave.
♥ Give a carnation to your co-workers — all of them.
♥ Be nice to someone you don’t like.
♥ Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
♥ Bring treats to work (or for the health-conscious — fresh fruit.)
♥ Pay the tab of the person behind you in the drive-thru at Starbucks.
And don’t forget — in the event my idea doesn’t take off, be kind to yourself. In my office days, I wasn’t above sending flowers to myself. From a secret admirer, of course. The person at the flower shop is the only one who’ll know. And I’m sure they get it all the time.