When Shelley asked me to write something about this Valentine’s Day for her Dealing with Divas website, my thoughts turned to V-Day 2008. Now, 2007 was not a great year for our family. I’ll try to keep the whining to a minimum, but here is what the situation was on 2/14/08: My father died in 2007 and the process of settling his estate dragged into 2008, making 2008 into an even worse year. I got so fed up with dealing with the legal complications of the estate, by the end of 2007, I had quit my job after nearly nine years.

Due to the Writers Guild strike of 2007/2008, my husband’s show was not shooting so he joined me in the land of Unemployment. Our oldest dog died. Our younger dog got sick. Our son and daughter were both looking for jobs. Neither of them were dating anyone and everyone was generally in a bad mood. Not exactly the Hallmark moment you’d expect for “the most romantic day of the year”, celebrating Love (with a capital “L”). So despite that (maybe because of that) our daughter threw a Valentine’s Day dinner party.

Being the thoroughly modern young woman that she is, our daughter has remained on excellent terms with her ex-boyfriend, (her first real boyfriend, and the Former Love of Her Life). They remain best of friends now that they are no longer a couple. So, she invited him to the party too.

You might think this would be an awkward situation. (Actually, there is no proper term that comes to mind about how to refer to your child’s ex, but awkward is an excellent adjective for describing the social relationship with him/her. Especially in the context of a Valentine’s Day situation.) Not that we don’t like him anymore; the fact is…we still do. It’s just that Valentine’s Day, is usually a celebration of new love or love in bloom, but I don’t think it’s usually associated with exes.

Being modern people (or at least attempting to be), we tried to take it all in stride. The odd thing was…it worked. Our daughter cooked a gourmet meal for the family and ex-boyfriend. We drank wine. We tried to keep the “L” word out of the conversation or references to V-day. We simply ignored it while having a dinner together to celebrate it…in a way. Not as a greeting card holiday, or a time to buy expensive jewelry, armfuls of long stemmed red roses, and all the accoutrements of a proper V-Day celebration. We celebrated the relationships that remain even after romantic bonds have been broken. We celebrated having each other around even during the bad times.

And we decided that on the next Valentine’s Day we were not going to define love by an artificial holiday made up by greeting card manufacturers and florists to makes people not in relationships feel like losers. Or make people in relationships feel cheated if they don’t get expensive floral arrangements to prove that they’re loved and valued.

So, whether you’re in a relationship or not, I hope this Valentine’s Day finds you surrounded by loving friends and family. If you have that, you don’t need roses.