It’s the day of chocolate, oversized teddy bears and words of adoration. It’s the day of long lines at the grocery store, thanks to the men who waited last minute to pick up a dozen roses. It’s the day meant for lovers, or so we’re told.

But beneath the oozing pink and red Hallmark-branded actions (or lack of actions depending on our relationship status) we take to celebrate Valentine’s Day, there’s something to be had from the day, and it doesn’t cost a penny.

When we look past the societal beliefs about what a holiday should be about, we can recognize beautiful reminders of virtues to be celebrated. Just as Thanksgiving is best celebrated as a day of thanks, Valentine’s Day is, at its core, a celebration of love.

And love is the foundation of everything wonderful in the world.

I’m not talking about love exclusively in a romantic sense. Although connecting with another person on a deep, committed level is fulfilling in itself, love extends far beyond a relationship between two people. It’s something that exists independently within all of us. It’s the force that moves us to smile at strangers, to empathize with people we barely know, to miss those we’ve lost to distance or to death. It transcends time and space. It permeates silence. It makes us human.

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