I started talking about Valentine’s Day with some friends recently and the looks I got could have wilted a rose. Turned up noses, snarky comments about husbands dropping the ball and a few shrugged shoulders was about all I got. I realize that we have all been bombarded with Hallmark and Ferrero Rocher chocolate commercials the past few weeks, but I am determined to turn this holiday from superficial to super fabulous, at least at my house.
For starters, I thought of my official answer for “Mom, what is Valentine’s Day anyway?” My answer, drum roll please ... “It’s a day to celebrate Love (yes, Love with a capital L).” It doesn’t have to be a day filled with commercial influences but a day when we go the extra mile to remind those we love that we do in fact love them. Yes, this is something we should do every day but let’s get real: life happens and we sometimes go days without reminding the ones we love how much they mean to us. So what’s wrong with a day dedicated to doing just that? Nothing, I say, nothing at all.
So now that we have the definition of Valentine’s Day down, let’s move on to how we can celebrate with our kids and have some fun with this day. I am in a head to head fight with sugar right now so I am going to leave those amazing red velvet cupcakes and scrumptious truffles out of this conversation. After all, there is more to Valentine’s Day than chocolate.
For our littlest cupids, books and songs about love tend to be the best way to celebrate this day but for preschoolers and up this can be a day about giving back. It can start days beforehand when the kids make Valentines for their classmates and can practice writing. My daughter recently told me that she needs more room to write notes to her Valentines so could I please get her real note cards. OK, if that gets her writing I will do just that. My son, on the other hand, is perfectly content with writing the names of his classmates and his name over and over again.
My daughter didn’t ask why she had to make Valentine’s cards for every classmate but I suppose it does come up with older kids. Knowing the on again off again friend dynamics of middle school children, it’s something to think about how to answer. I thought about going the Golden Rule route but know for a fact that my daughter wouldn’t care much if she didn’t get a card from a few classmates so that rules out that answer. Then I decided that I would explain to my kids that this is a day about love and with love comes a host of other feelings like respect, kindness and understanding. Respect that others might be upset if they don’t get a card from you; be kind to people because it is the right thing to do; and understand that not everyone is like you but they are human and have feelings.
After all of the cards are finished and packed up for delivery, we will have some fun with red. The kids go wild trying to find all of the red clothes they own. Surprisingly, my son wins that contest every year. My daughter's red heart stockings were cute enough to make her happy so no tears were shed. I get in on the fun and pull out some red and even persuade my husband to endure the inevitable teasing from his colleagues. Oh the things we do for our kids.
Finally, as we wrap up the day with a family dinner with some silly love theme I throw in for good measure, I always try to come back to love and what it means to the kids. We talk about the power of love, who needs some love and how to give love to others. Our culture tends to throw the word love around and it has become diluted. I really like weekends, an interesting book and a good glass of wine, but I love my family with all of my heart and soul, and Valentine’s Day is a great day to celebrate that Love (with a capital L).