Ever heard of it “Gal”entine's Day? It’s a brilliant creation of television's Parks and Recreation’s character, Leslie Knope (played by the beloved Amy Poehler). It’s the special time of year when you leave your significant other at home and enjoy the company of your bffs. The hilarious episode premiered on March 20, 2014, but me and my girls have been celebrating some version of the holiday long before it had this cutesy name.
But loneliness is no laughing matter, that’s why I shared my story with Women AdvaNCe.
“It was hard to admit as a strong independent woman but some days, being single was harder than others. My celebration with friends began shortly after a divorce,” I offered. “I hadn’t spent any holiday alone in over a decade and I found the looming pressure (and commercial reminders) of Valentine’s Day to be overwhelming. You know that you’re broken-hearted when you are searching online for T-shirts that say ‘Love is not my friend.’’
I also shared some good news. I discovered a number of my friends in relationships and single who were determined to love me back to health. Their willingness to recognize that Valentine’s happens to be one of the more difficult ones of the year when you’re alone helped ease me through the holiday.
I shared a few examples how we can make the holiday special for those who might be feeling alone:
Write a note to a friend who might have lost someone special in the past year. One year, my friends went “old school” and gave each other those boxed Valentine’s cards that we all dreaded receiving as a child. A handwritten note goes a long way.
Give a sista-friend “Happies.” It doesn’t take something overly expensive to make a friend smile. We showered each other will silly trinkets. The Candy Factory is one of my favorite places for affordable gifts. No matter how much I spend they always dress is it up in beautifully.
I also recommend treating yourself to something special. Galentine’s should also be a reminder to LOVE YOUR SELF. Consider writing a note or journal entry that you come back to read in a year.
Last, but not least. I highly recommend sharing the love by making a donation. The mission of Family Services of Davidson County is close to my heart. Their work in the area of partner violence reminds me that there are people who remain in dangerous and toxic relationships for a number of reasons. Abusers often isolate victims and convince them that they are alone. It's greatly comforting to know that there are options like the Hattie Lee Burgess house for women and children fleeing partner violence.
I also serve on the board of Women AdvaNCe, a statewide information source for women. Our “Share the Love” campaign is one way for people to celebrate loved ones by making a gift that lasts all year. We were encouraging women to Set the World on Fire when Tamara Lush, a reporter for the Associated Press noticed our movement. She interviewed me for an AP Wire story about how Galentines started from a sitcom and now it is part of the growing MeToo! Movement. I shared with Tamara how both movements remind women that “we are not alone.”
I also shared (but it didn’t make the story) that long before celebrating the bff’s in my life with had a trendy name, I’ve valued relationships with the women in my life. My friends (of various genders) have literally picked me up in ways that I would have never imagined. So Galentine’s is like Valentine’s Day, only instead of celebrating the love you have for your significant other, you spend it with your best friends. After all of their love, unconditionally, I figured they deserve a holiday all to themselves.
Antionette Kerr is a local news contributor, publisher and freelance writer.