For being a holiday that centers on romance, Valentineís Day sure doesnít get much love.

In perusing my friendsí Facebook statuses the past few days, many have made their opinions clear on the subject: Valentineís Day is just a way to get people to spend money on things they donít need, make men feel guilty about not being romantic enough the other 364 days of the year and make single folks depressed because they have no one with whom to spend the day.

My take, however, is totally different.

I love Valentineís Day. Itís probably one of my top three favorite holidays.

For me, the day is not all about receiving gifts, going on luxurious dates or consuming as much chocolate and/or wine as possible. It actually closely relates to my other favorite holiday ó Thanksgiving.

For me, Valentineís Day is about love and being thankful for those whom I love and who love me.

Donít get me wrong ó I appreciate good wine and chocolate and like to indulge in an expensive date every now and again. For breakfast today, I expected to make heart-shaped pancakes, and I might just craft a heart paper chain or two for my sonís preschool Valentineís Day party.

But I donít need flowers or expensive jewelry. And this year, I donít necessarily want to go on a date with just my husband, because my circle of love recently has expanded to include two of the most precious little boys anyone could ever ask for.

The really good stuff comes from within. Itís being able to have all three of my boys close and have one special day to remind them how much I love them. Itís the butterflies I get when my oldest son tells me Iím his ďbest girl.Ē Itís the sweet bliss I feel when I rock our 1-year-old, who is rapidly approaching the age when this will not be possible, to sleep.†

All of those common things are the reasons I love love. Whatís so wrong with taking one special day to celebrate that? In a fast-paced world full of troubles and worries, is a day to remember love really that bad?

Nothing, if youíre not afraid to embrace it and realize you deserve to love and be loved in return, be it by family members, partners, children, friends or others. Love comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and we shouldnít waste time trying to figure out how to fit it in a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

I hope you all take time to express love today, either around a dinner table, playing a board game, making homemade valentines or partaking in another activity.

Happy loving!

Meagan Patton-Paulson is Herald Connections Editor. Email her at mpatton@ottawaherald.com