Every year, around the middle of February, people break out the heart-shaped cards; chocolates and roses become hot-items on every lover's shopping list.
Call me a cynic or a love-pessimist, but I've never cared for Valentine's Day.
While Christmas is full of warmth and family love and Thanksgiving is about food and contentedness and kindness, Valentine's Day always felt a little...unnecessary.
I'm a believer in not postponing what should be said today.
Why wait to tell your spouse or significant other that you love them?
Why wait to show that you can spoil them in chocolate and roses?
Why set aside a complete holiday for something that should be done regularly?
Add to it that I grew up in a household with unorthodox opinions on the holidays and that my “love language” has never been gifts, and Valentine's Day just never felt remarkably special to me.
I'm not going to write to you and tell you how I became a turned-around Valentine's Day Grinch, how I now bask in the plastic-heart sticky sweetness of a holiday that – let's be honest here – is mostly popularized to drive consumers to buy things they don't need for people that don't need those big teddy bears or heart-shaped jewelry.
Instead, I'm here to tell you about an alternative.
A little less than a year ago, I discovered the show Parks and Recreation, which stars Amy Poehler as the energized government employee Leslie Knope.
It's hard not to love Leslie – she loves fiercely, lives ferociously, does everything to the best of her ability, never backs down and above all else, builds up the women around her.
Is Leslie Knope a little ridiculous? Definitely. But watching Parks and Recreation makes you feel that, you too, can accomplish anything you set your mind to if only you have the determination to fight for it.
In season two, Leslie Knope celebrates the day before Valentine's Day with all her gal-pals, in a created holiday known as “Galentine's Day.”
As Leslie Knope herself said: “Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”
And that's all there is to it – ladies celebrating ladies the day before the restaurants become booked to bursting.
The morning of Feb. 13, the Parks and Recreation ladies meet for a brunch of frittatas and waffles, mimosas and coffee and share the joy and companionship of being around their fellow girls.
And you know what, it's not a half bad idea.
As we grow up out of our high school years, it becomes harder and harder to keep in touch with your gal-pals.
While I'm just shy of five years outside of my high school graduation, I've had friends move away for college, venture into marriage, become mothers, build careers and live their lives – and I wouldn't wish anything less for them!
But with all of our busy, far-away lives, it can be hard to get together and interact.
Galentine's Day is a time to put a pause on the bustle of our lives as young, successful women and thriving mothers, and just 'kick it' (as Leslie said).
A holiday for love shouldn't be reserved strictly for couples. There are many ways to love those around you, such as your family and friends, without it being a romantic love – so why does romantic love get the holiday while the love for friends and the love for family get the short end of the holiday-stick?
Unlike Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day requires no gifts (unless you want to), requires no dinner reservations (because it's brunch, and no one is filling up the restaurants the morning before Valentine's Day) and no frantic rush to buy the best gift, purchase the biggest bouquet or find the cutest bear.
It's just waffles. It's just girlfriends. It's just a time to celebrate the female companionship in your life that has helped shape you into the woman you are today.
After all, as Leslie Knope says: “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”