On Valentine’s Day, I went grocery shopping with Christina & Greg. On the way into the store, I said, “Oh, yay, Valentine’s Day. I shall buy myself some chocolate.”

Thus ensued a brief conversation about Hallmark holidays, which Christina scorns. Years ago, I too hated Valentine’s Day — it’s such a loaded holiday for anyone not happily partnered. These days, though, I like all holidays that can be labeled chocolate holidays, because they’re an excuse to eat chocolate, and I like reasons to eat chocolate. Christina pointed out that I can have chocolate whenever I want, and I said, sure, but if I ate chocolate every day it wouldn’t be special anymore. I like it to be special.

I view chocolate holidays as a reason to check in with myself and see if I need taking care of. I’m the person who takes care of me, mostly, so I’m the one who gets to say, “Hmm, would flowers make me happy today?” And if they would, I buy myself some flowers. And yes, I could potentially do this every day, but I can’t afford flowers every day, or chocolate every day. Even if I could, it would then just become routine, it would stop being a treat. I like Hallmark holidays — or chocolate holidays, which is the name I prefer — as an opportunity to be nice to myself. (It’s never even occurred to me to buy myself a card, though — I don’t go that far!)

Anyway, back to our shopping excursion: I went into the grocery store with every intention of buying myself some chocolate. Sadly, the grocery store had no chocolate without the allergen warning label that it had been processed in a place that also processes wheat. None! I am pretty sure I read the label on every single brand of chocolate bar they had. Before I was done, Christina was also reading labels.

Alas, there was no safe chocolate. But so it goes. I bought myself some gluten-free bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese, which is also a rare treat, because hey, Hallmark holiday = reason to have a treat, and just because I couldn’t have chocolate didn’t mean I couldn’t have a treat. I toasted my bagel in Christina’s toaster and it was delicious. Treat success.

The next day Christina and Greg went out to lunch, and came back with gluten-free Thin Mint-style cookies (that tasted exactly like Thin Mints) and a gluten-safe chocolate bar for me. And you know, treats you buy yourself are lovely, but treats from thoughtful friends are even better. I finished the last of my chocolate bar last night right before I went to sleep and I fell asleep feeling loved. It’s amazing what a little chocolate can do.

Today I am off to Gainesville for a quick camping trip with R and M. It’s going to be hot — in the 80s — and it will probably rain, but I’m looking forward to it anyway. R texted me this morning and said if I didn’t want to drive all the way to Gainesville, they could meet me after M finishes her classes at 5. We texted back and forth for a few minutes before I finally called him, and established that I would rather drive an extra couple of hours to spend four more hours with him, that in the weight of my preferences, more time with him outweighs time spent driving. So I’m going to be getting on the road very, very soon now and today is probably not going to include any of the worthwhile things I have been doing (aka writing, teaching myself Affinity Photo, reading self-help books and taking notes) but it will include some joy. As my morning’s meditation guide said, “It’s going to be a magical day.” At the time, that made me laugh — it sounded so Disney to me — but I like the thought. I hope your day is magical, too!