Oh yes, it’s Valentine’s week. It starts with Galentine’s Day on February 13, a day created on a TV show called “Parks and Recreation” that’s now a popular holiday as an excuse for girlfriends to hang out together and drink. I think Galentine’s Day may happen more than once a year though… just saying.

But then there is Valentine’s Day itself. A holiday not without controversy. I mean, look at the origins. How did we go to Valentine’s Day, from St. Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint, which originated as a Christian feast day honoring martyrs named Valentine? (As an FYI, numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine and there are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Saint Valentines connected to February 14.) 

According to an early tradition, St. Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. An 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution. 

Wow, what fun and joy! Let’s celebrate. Like, how did that evolve into leaving your partner on the hook for getting you flowers and candies, you ask? 

Well, the day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries. (I’m not positive why and, despite a few smart-aleck remarks to the contrary, I was not around to witness firsthand!) Then in 18th century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).  OK, there’s the part where we got put on the hook for buying stuff. 

Through later traditions, Valentine’s Day somehow has become a significant commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world. All I know is, every year I had to go out and buy a zillion tiny cards and candy (… and somehow it fell on me to fill them all out) to send with my daughters to school so they could give these to their classmates.

It gets worse, though, in middle and high school. That’s when the PTSD really starts if you don’t get cards! So, hey, I am personally not a huge fan of this holiday, if you can’t tell by now.

But it’s here now and we can have fun celebrating it in our facilities because who doesn’t want to have fun at work? My hand is raised for that! Heart decorations, cupcakes, yummy pink punch, pin-the-arrow on the big red heart, love trivia and more. Crafting for our more active seniors and placing their art around the facility is fun. Learning something new about the holiday could be a great discussion topic. Putting on a romantic movie. Playing love-themed songs during the meals. You get the idea. 

So, while I run around spending a mortgage payment on Valentine’s Day cards, gifts and meals for my family to prove to them I love them — because obviously the sacrificial and unconditional love I show them the other 364 days a year isn’t enough (just joking!) — let’s just go and have some fun with our staff and residents.

Just keeping it real (and full of love),

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates. 

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.