It’s the month to celebrate love, right? What could be bad about that?   

Funny thing about the Hallmark holiday, Valentine’s Day: people who don’t get those boxes of candy or bouquets of scarlet blooms can feel left out.  Truth is, we’re a couples-oriented society and it’s a holiday for lovers, primarily. It’s natural to feel a void on that day if you don’t have a lover, a mate, a partner. In fact, there’s a documented uptick in depression around that holiday.

The day is all about the gesture—all over the country homes and offices burst forth with bouquets of flowers. But I’d be willing to bet that come February 14 a lot of down-hearted people will be swiping on a smile with their lipstick, remembering what they once had or wish they had.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that many feel shut out of.

So whether we have a lover or not, here’s something we can do:  make Valentine’s Day a happy day for the people in our lives who may not have someone to be their valentine. Let’s expand the definition of “lover” and be one another’s Valentine.  

If you think that sounds like fun, start with a list of likely prospects.

Who are they? A friend?  A coworker? Someone who’s just lost a spouse? A family member? A neighbor who lives alone? Look around and I’m sure you’ll find them. Make a list.

Years ago my sister felt left out of the holiday, so I had a dozen red roses delivered straight to her office.  “Let them wonder,” the card read.  

That’s a grand gesture that you wouldn’t undertake for everyone, but there are other ways to brighten the day for others.

•There’s the obvious: a note that says you are thinking of them and thanking them for being in your life.  Dollar stores often sell cards for two-for-$1 and it doesn’t have to be a Valentine’s Day card—it could be colorful blank card in which you write a personal note.

•Add some homemade cookies or a couple of cupcakes. Make a few dozen to easily do a Valentine’s Day kindness for a whole lot of people.

•There’s candy, and it doesn’t have to be in a heart-shaped box. It can be a small tissue-wrapped pouch of individual candy mints or kisses, or just about any miniature sweet.

•I love giving those cute little kids’ valentines to people in my life—they often bring back memories and a smile.

•Drop off some flowers. Most of us know places in our community where we can buy flowers at a good price. If your garden’s in bloom, pick a few blossoms. Drop by the dollar store and look for a little vase. Three blooms per vase means you can brighten the day of four people very inexpensively.

•And if you’ve got a larger budget, do something for a local home for the elderly: cards, flowers, candies—anything you do will be appreciated, including a visit with some of the residents.

You can mention Valentine’s Day—or not, if you think the mention would be painful.

I’m starting a movement to make Valentine’s Day a true day of love instead of a day for true love. 

Who’s in?

Carol Cassara is a writer and ordained minister who believes in living fully in every color of the rainbow. Her essays have appeared in Skirt! magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, on public radio and other venues. After a long career as a corporate communications executive, she is enjoying having more time to write, travel and just enjoy life. When she's not traveling the world, she lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and crazy little maltipoo. Her daily blog inspirations for creating our best lives can be found at www.carolcassara.com.