I love Valentine’s Day! Even though I am always fortune enough to be single each year, I find it one of the most fun holidays of the year. It’s a day to share love, regardless of whether you are partnered or not.

The world needs a lot of love and we don’t share it nearly as much as we should. From the cheesy and campy, to the commercial, I find the holiday a great way to wear red, pink, tell all your loved ones you love and more importantly to love yourself.  If you can love yourself, well you’re 100% able to love freely and openly without regrets or fear.

I don’t have many memories of Valentine’s Day outside of four years worth of selling Valentine’s Day balloons, messages, candy and bears in high school as part of the class of 98′s annual fundraising for our prom, but I do have one memory that involves possibly the most important man of my life: my dad.As a matter of fact, that memory triggered the connection between my passion and the writer I am today.

It was a Valentine’s Day in the mid-90s and we received a delivery at our house in Cleveland Heights. It contained a dozen roses for my Mom and a single red rose for me. They were from my dad, who was on one of his trips (he was a truck driver). Boy do I wish I had the card that he sent with the rose, but I don’t. Instead, I have the memory and it is one that makes me smile even while I cry.  It will be three years since I lost my dad next week and when he died, I remember thinking I lost the only man who would ever unconditionally love me. Which is true for the most part. Someone else may love me, but they won’t love me the same way Dad did. Don’t worry, I don’t have a father complex here. No, I just know that love is a fragile thing; it doesn’t always last forever and our society now, doesn’t know exactly how to value love and yet, still, I  have hope and am optimistic.

Anyhow, yesterday afternoon as I wrapped up the last bunch of 2012 Love Mixes to mail to friends both near and far, I also finished up a letter to the most recent “M” in my life. After I mailed it, I thought, well there’s no taking that back. And I felt content. Happy. Glad to have it sent.  After all, I do believe that everyone should have a good old fashion and REAL love letter once in their lives, whether it comes from the person they marry or not. To know your loved is unlike any other experience you may have.

After I left the post office, I remembered the single rose delivered from my Dad all those years ago and then a flood of memories of all of the cards I got from my dad through those years while he was on the road, and even after he stopped driving. Let me be honest, I didn’t have the most amazing relationship with my Dad; we were by no means Gwyneth Paltrow and her father, no, we were Sara and Howard, and we were pen pals. I have a card he sent me back in 1997 when I was looking for colleges sitting on my desk now. I found it months after he died and while it makes me cry, it makes me smile and feel connected – to see his handwriting and read his message, reminds me that he has always guided me and is always around

So anyone who asks me why I love Valentine’s Day will get the story of the single red rose from my Dad received at the age of 14 or 15. And then a whole earful on the importance of real connection through correspondence. It’s why I write now, because my dad was not only one of my best pen pals, but showed me how important it is to stay connected with the ones you love even from a distance and when you’re not your best person. Love is love.

Whether you’re single, partnered, gay, straight, poor, rich, educated, illiterate, black, white, etc, may you communicate today and really love not just yourself, but lend your heart out to all those in need of some love. Today is a day to openly love and it doesn’t cost a fortune to do so.

Happy Valentine’s Day!