I'm a bit late this year in announcing Operation Valentinus, but I was reminded by a manipulative email from a Catholic dating website in my inbox. It was called "Pre-Valentine's Day Dread?"
The Valentine's merchandise arrived with force: boxed chocolates, shooting cupids, red roses. It can be dispiriting for those of us who are still searching for that special someone to wine and dine on Feb. 14.
Maybe it's time to become a full, paid member of X.
Ah dear. I see that that particular dating website has become a full-fledged Catholic industry, with smart bloggers and interesting articles and the occasional nihil obstat. It's amazing what can be done when subscribers are coughing up a one-time six month payment of $75. Maybe if I stopped writing about how exploitative I think Catholic dating websites are, I'd get a cut of the action.
But never mind that. It's time to launch Operation Valentinus. And Operation Valentinus is not based on signing up on dating websites to ogle photographs of men and deciding to contact them based on their ability to spell, but on showing your Single friends how much they mean in your life right now.
There are two parts to Operation Valentinus. The first part involves choosing five or so Single friends and sending them cards and chocolate--particularly chocolate--in the post for Valentine's Day. The second part involves arranging a fun party for Singles on the night of Valentine's Day, preferably far away from any restaurant teeming with couples willing to pay £45 per person for that which cost only £20 the night before.
It's really that simple. If you have discovered, year after year, that certain holidays make you feel depressed, then you owe it to your mental health to prepare for them. And just like your priest/spiritual director/mother said, there is something about thoughtful gestures for other people that makes you feel good yourself.
So I recommend that girl Singles send valentines and chocolates to their Single girl friends, and that boy Singles send valentines and chocolates to their elderly female relations. Elderly female relations love to hear from their young male relations whenever, and will never get the Wrong Idea. If boy Singles send valentines and chocolates to girl Singles in whom they are not at all interested in a romantic way, they risk giving the Wrong Idea.
If Married readers want to take part in Operation Valentinus, then they should plan their list of Single beneficiaries very carefully. Market research (e.g. me googling) indicates that Single girls like to get Single stuff (like my book) from Single friends but not as much from Married (or getting-married-next-week) friends. The last thing you want to get, as a Married woman whose own Valentine's Day might be lackluster, is a snippy response from the Single friend to whom you sent a card and gift.
As for the fun night you are going to have on Valentine's Day, I rather leave that up to you. My caveat is that you stay out of bars because predatory men might be taking special advantage of vulnerable women. I envision busy kitchens of Singles cooking for each other or revealing the dishes they have brought from home, or putting Chinese take-out on plates. And I envision cult classics on the DVD player. But mostly I envision friends having fun together and seeing for themselves that being Single doesn't mean being alone and unloved.