02/13/2012 07:59 pm ET | Updated Apr 14, 2012

Crafting Your Valentine's Day Into the Day You Want

For many singletons, the anxiety starts as soon as the Valentine's Day advertising blitz kicks off. Those first big red hearts in store windows call out to us like strangers in a foreign land. The romantic television commercials for jewelry and flowers prompt cynical remarks out of us all.

Having been married for 38 years to a man who always made Valentine's Day a special day, I never gave it too much thought. "My Funny Valentine" was actually our song. We danced to it the night that we met at The Daisy. We were both at the private club with other dates, but Aaron asked me to dance anyway. Eight dances later, my date was standing there holding my coat, ready to take me home. Valentine's Day was also the day we moved into The Manor. It seems forever ago that I spent a chaotic day organizing and coordinating our move. Finally, at the end of the day, we settled in for a romantic dinner in our new home.

Aaron always said Valentine's Day was for the girls and not the guys and always had fun with it. He was not the kind of man who would have thought to buy me something practical. Aaron was all about the romance. Yet for all his extravagance, not a year went by that he didn't give me a very simple box of heart-shaped chocolates, the kind you'd find at any shopping mall in America.

I still remember my first Valentine's Day after Aaron passed away, the dread and the loneliness that overwhelmed me when I saw the holiday displays turn into Valentine's Day displays. Even though it truly is just another day, the fact that I was single brought up a lot of feelings and reopened a wound that had just begun to heal.

The next year, I made sure to have a date on Valentine's Day. I thought this would be a sure-fire remedy for my Valentine's Day blues. As it happened, being out with another man on that special day made it all the worse.

The good news is that I learned from this experience. I realized that on Valentine's Day, there is too much emphasis placed on the love between a man and a woman. I decided that from now on, I would take charge and make my Valentine's Day what I wanted it to be. So these days, my Valentine's Day shopping starts with a trip to the craft store. I walk in and am immediately inspired by the glittery hearts, pink beads, and red-glitter glue.

Valentine's Day is actually a wonderful opportunity for creativity. If you're a single girl, what could be more fun than getting a group of girlfriends together for a glass of chardonnay and jewelry making? All you need are some elastic bands, felt, and an assortment of beads.

If you're a busy mom always trying to stretch your time and resources, stop by a dollar store and pick up a few simple bud vases for the dinner table. You'll be amazed how placing just a few red-stem flowers on the dinner table will make your family's meal more festive. If you're feeling a little more inspired, you can pull out the colored paper and pencils and make cards for one another.

Now, if you're newly single, there is nothing like pampering yourself with a trip to the nail salon. And if your heart is really broken, I highly recommend doing something thoughtful and kind for another person.

This year I am fortunate to have a visit from my son and his family to look forward to. I will also be thinking about my husband, who didn't need a holiday to be happy. Even if it weren't Valentine's Day tomorrow, he would have come home from work with a big hug for me and said, "Happy Tuesday."

Happy Valentine's Day! Remember to make your day what you want it to be and share the love!