The show Parks and Recreation aired an episode called “Galentine’s Day” back in 2010. Though it may have taken eight years, this unofficial holiday of women celebrating women has finally gained some momentum. Like many out there, I fell head over heels for Parks and Rec with its dynamic, intense, and lovable female lead. The character Leslie Knope became an immediate feminist symbol of drive and integrity. What has always been infinitely beautiful to me about this TV heroine is how she is always holding other women up. There’s no competition and no cat fights — she simply and unconditionally loves her girlfriends and finds strength in their differences.
Galentine’s Day takes place every year on the day before Valentine’s Day. This is a time to celebrate your friendships with other women, even if they don’t live in the same town. Beyond my love of Leslie Knope, Galentine’s Day speaks to me deeply.
Growing up I really wanted to be a “guy’s girl.” I had an older brother, and I could destroy anyone as Knightwolf in Mortal Combat; my favorite movie was (and still is) Aliens, and I could speak knowledgeably about pretty much any “boy pursuit” of the ’90s. I was feminine as well — I loved makeup and fashion and writing poems about current crushes. But I thought my grasp on dude culture gave me an edge with being attractive to the opposite sex. I thought it made me seem down to earth and cool and not caught up in all that “girl drama.” This idea that being “like the other girls” was undesirable permeated my early teen years. I understand that at that age we all want to be seen as interesting and different, but back then, I failed to recognize how wonderful it is to be “just like all those other girls.” Because all those other girls are incredible. They are you. They are me. And together we can weave a support network that is exquisite.
I am reminded of this poem…
I wound up attending a predominantly female college (Texas Woman’s University) and there I found that working and resting in the company of other women gave me great strength. I made new friends that were different from me and who that taught me unfamiliar and amazing things. I went back and fostered friendships from high school that had fallen away to give me more life-room for boyfriends.
When I got married to a military man, it was women who took me in and made me feel less lonely when move after move pried away my existing friend groups. When I started attending church, it was women who told me that my questions were worthy. It was women who modeled who I wanted to become. When I had children, it was women who comforted me and educated me. It was those women who encouraged me to gain the confidence in my abilities that I needed to be a successful military wife, mother, and friend.
Over and over again, female friendships have taken the rough, wild clay that I am made of and smoothed it into something better. My friendships with women have made me more compassionate, loving, and confident. The ladies who I have come across — and who I am certain I will keep coming across — have made my life not just more enjoyable but more meaningful.
Last year I decided to go out with friends for Galentine’s Day. It fell on a Monday, and we all got dolled up and went out to a fancy martini bar. The bar wound up being closed … because it was a Monday. So we went around the block to a dive bar and were the only patrons. So we drank a sensible amount, ate a ridiculous amount of cheese bread, and reveled in each other’s stories and laughter. It was awesome.
This year I’m doing a redux, but this year will be at my house. My mom’s group JAMM (Just Among Military Moms) (it’s like MOPS but tailored specifically to the military chapel community and needs), is coming to my house and we are going to do a “favorite things exchange.”
My plan is to borrow a friend’s chocolate fountain (gotta love a friend who keeps a chocolate fountain around) and crack open a couple of bottles of wine and just take the time to better get to know the fascinating and beautiful women who live at my fingertips.
I want to find out how I can be of service in their lives, to learn something new, to share a bit more of myself, and to tell them that I appreciate their company, wisdom, and wit. Because THAT is the essence of Galentine’s Day. And I am on board forever to celebrate that kind of holiday.