Long ago, before the term “Galentine’s Day” was coined, my friends were my original Valentines. Each year, on February 14th, I made it a priority to celebrate my best girls. Whether going to dinner, sending flowers, buying simple gifts, or having a movie night, I always did something with and for my friends. It was a tradition that I looked forward to, carrying it with me from college into adulthood.
Now, I can’t remember what initially prompted me to dedicate Valentine’s Day to my friends. But if I had to guess, it probably had to do with two things. The first was a distraction from my singleness, and the second was my only child syndrome. Growing up as an only child, friendship meant everything to me. It was a sense of belonging, sisterhood, familiarity, and acceptance. My friends held me accountable, made me feel less lonely, and were my voices of reason. They saw me when I couldn’t see myself and held me down in ways I can’t even explain. So when it came to the annual holiday reserved for the lovers in your life, I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than my sister-friends.
Over time though, I watched as my me and friend’s lives began to change. We began to grow apart. Some moved away, some got married, some started families, and some just became consumed with their own lives. Leaving me to spend many Valentine’s Days alone.
That was until I found myself in a relationship, making the man in my life my Valentine and not thinking about what Valentine’s Day had historically meant to me. Recently, though, I have found myself reflecting upon those days with my friends. Reminiscing about that one time I made candy bags for everyone, complete with handwritten notes and stickers. Or that time I made champagne-filled chocolate-covered strawberries for my friends to eat while we watched Friday, Next Friday, and Friday After Next. And that other time, where my friend and I sent flowers to each other’s job, then went to dinner and paid for one another’s meals, even though we ordered the same thing.
It is moments like these that have reminded me of just how far my friends and I have drifted from one another. How we have allowed life’s moments to interfere with time spent together. How we have now found ourselves in spaces where we schedule, cancel and then reschedule times for togetherness for months and years on end. How we have allowed life to pass us by to the point where we can no longer see one another as freely as we once did before. And it is why I am grateful that the day before Valentine’s Day was given the name “Galentine’s Day”.
To serve as an annual reminder of sisterhood. An excuse to gather your best gals and do something meaningful. Something that speaks to the unique bond that you all share. Something to honor and uplift the ones who are there for every breakup, every announcement, every setback, and every set-up.
I encourage all women, this year and every year after, regardless of your relationship status or where you are in your life to make Galentine’s Day a priority. As women, we endure so much. And oftentimes, it is the laughter, hugs, smiles, and encouraging words from our fellow girlfriends that carry us from day to day. To love us for who we are, where we are. To allow us to show up as our authentic selves and not a fabricated version. To remind us that we are doing a good job and that we don’t need to do anything more.
This is what Galentine’s Day is all about. The time to express gratitude for your God-given sisters through an outpouring of love and celebration. I wish all women near and far a very Happy Galentine’s Day. Know that you are loved, you are seen, and you are appreciated. And to my sister-friends, my Original Valentine’s, know that your presence is the ultimate present and that your friendship is something that I will never take for granted.
Contributing Writer Racquel Coral is a national lifestyle writer and journalist based in Chicago, Illinois. Find her on all social media platforms @withloveracquel.