There is a rule in my house called “No Red Plate Tuesday.” My sister and I once decided that eating from red plates on Tuesdays is unacceptable, and now we do not eat from red plates on Tuesdays. I’m the first to admit that it is a completely useless rule.
But there is another rule in our house that I make sure we abide by, which I refer to as the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” rule. It states that we must tell each other that we love each other every morning before we all leave. See, in any “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book, you will find a story in which someone’s parent dies. The children in question will be in a hurry one morning, and they write that although they make sure to tell their mother that they love her every morning, they forget in their rush one day. They say that they’ll tell her later, or hug her later, or whatever. But sadly, their parent dies on the one day they forgot to tell her they love her, and they never get to say it again.
Because I love my parents, this concept scares me. I know that not telling my dad that I love him won’t send him into a heartbroken, deadly shock, and that’s not what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid that any given day when I forget to remind my parents how wonderful they are could be the last I see them.
I’ve taken this mindset past my parents. I am that person who always reminds my friends how much I care about them. My preferred ending to a phone call is “I love you, bye,” and I’m known to randomly text my friends saying that I love them or miss them. Unfortunately, the world is a scary place, and I want the people I care about to wander this earth with confidence in our friendship. And if something unimaginable happens, I want one of the last things they hear to be the simple fact they are important to me.
Valentine’s Day is next week, and – for most people – it’s a holiday to celebrate in a mushy, over-the-top, romantic way. But it doesn’t need to be this way. The love of friends, while not as overbearing and dramatic as romantic love, can be more powerful. Any friend of mine who has no one to send chocolates and roses to is welcome to spend the day with me. But we’re not going to sit around and mope because we’re single. I’m not having an anti-Valentine’s Day party. Rather, we’ll celebrate with a few Judd Apatow movies and some popcorn, and simply say “I love you, bye,” when the night is through. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a spectacle of relationships and drama. It can be a day just to make sure to say “I love you.”
Of course, if anyone has no one to send chocolates or flowers to, they will be readily accepted by me. (Dark chocolate, please.)
• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.