Monday, February 9, 2015

Overlapping holidays share the love

Valentine’s Day is about love. It’s a day to express affection for people you care about. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just fallen in love or have been together for decades, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to let loved ones know they are appreciated.

But what if you’re not in love? For those single by chance, by choice or because of a recent loss, the holiday can be bittersweet at best.

Instead of feeling left out, there is a way to feel part of the celebration. Another holiday — Random Acts of Kindness Week, which runs from February 9-15 — overlaps with Valentine’s Day. While far less familiar, Random Acts of Kindness Week, is no less important. It may even be more significant because it provides a chance for everyone, regardless of relationship status, to share a little love with others.

Expressing love is as varied as one’s imagination. It could be something as simple as smiling at others or giving a friend a hug and telling him or her how much you care for them. Some people celebrate by anonymously paying for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant or by donating non-perishables to a food bank.

But you don’t have to spend money to participate. Words alone can make a difference. You can say something nice to the cashier at the grocery or compliment the waiter who is bringing you a meal. You can write a note and leave it in a library book or send a thank you card to someone who has helped in you the past.

One of my favorite ways to combine the two holidays is to buy a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, a bouquet of flowers, but instead of taking it home, give the flowers away, one at a time to residents at a nursing home. The smiles you receive in exchange for each unexpected act of kindness will more than compensate for the money spent on the floral arrangement.

The surprising thing about random acts of kindness is that by giving gifts of love to others, you are giving a gift to yourself as well.

Click on the arrow below to hear a wonderful song on this topic by Malvina Reynolds called "The Magic Penny"

“Kindness is contagious,” says, “Acts of kindness have a positive three-way effect: There’s the positive effect on the recipient and the positive effect on you — you might find yourself experiencing the positive emotion of the ‘helper’s high.’ But perhaps the biggest effect of all will be on a passer-by who just happens to witness the act.”

With so many advertisers these days urging us to celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving gifts of jewelry, candy, flowers or fancy meals out, it’s easy to forget the real meaning of the holiday.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day, Random Acts of Kindness Week, an amalgam of the two or nothing at all, the main thing to remember is that love matters. And what matters even more is the ability to share that love with others.

It's all about sharing love with others
(Photo credit: Jenny Boas)

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