Today: Why? Because I love you.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day from me to you.  With a ribbon on it.  And a paper rose.  And some glitter.  And a heart-shaped doilie.  And two of these little ginger snaps.

When I was sixteen, I spent Valentine’s Day in Rome as a nerdy American exchange student.  I think I’ve told you this story before, but it’s too mortifying to not dig up again.  In my universe, Valentine’s Day is for everyone you love– your handsome boyfriend, your parents and siblings, your grandmother, your Frenchie (obviously), and most certainly, your friends.  It’s a day to be a little mushier than usual, and as James Taylor would say, it’s a day to shower the people you love with love.

I didn’t know my Italian host family before arriving in Rome, but they were generous enough to be taking care of me and that automatically made them quite lovely.  My mother helped me pick out little Valentines and chocolates for each of the family members– the mother and father, the Nonna, the daughter, and the two sons.  I was excited to pull these little treats from my bright red suitcase on Valentine’s Day morning and bring them to the breakfast table with me.  As I handed each Valentine to its intended recipient, I was met with puzzled looks.  “Valentine’s Day is only for lovaaaaaaahs,” one of the older brothers declared.

My face turned the color of a Valentine and I contemplated crying, or fainting, or pretending to speak neither Italian nor English.  I’m sure I got over it eventually, but my cheeks still burn thinking of that mortifying morning.  When you’re sixteen and a twenty-five year old Italian in skinny jeans is saying the word lover, it would be impossible to not be mortified.  In my opinion.

I also remember this (only slightly creepy) brother was wearing a BUM Equipment sweatshirt for essentially the entire length of my stay in Italy (he kept telling me  it was “very cool and American,” and I kept trying to translate the phrase “Only if you take a time machine back a decade,” to no avail), and that makes me feel better.

And at the end of the day, I’d rather embarrass myself than not let people know I care about them.  Even people wearing the word bum across their chest.  Point being: Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers.  It’s for everyone you love.  So get out there and be mushy.

Also On Tap for Today:

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

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