Holidays are special to me. I love the way they break up the day-to-day norm and allow us to focus on something specific, different, and fun. My husband and I couldn’t be more different in this area; I like to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday but have a hard time getting him excited about his own birthday. I may overdo it … my husband was not too thrilled when I still had our Christmas tree up long enough to make it a Valentine’s Day tree followed by a St. Patty’s tree last year. But come on – how cute is that?
For all of this, I blame my mom. It is her fault that holiday festivities are in my blood; you see, my mom has the ability to turn any holiday into a day of excitement and joy.
Let’s talk Valentine’s Day …
Throughout middle school and high school, I never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day – but I never felt like I needed one, either. Many of my girlfriends would talk about their plans for Valentine’s Day while the ones who didn’t have any plans would talk about how much they hated the holiday. Valentine’s Day can leave many girls feeling alone, inadequate, and depressed … but as a child and teen, I loved Valentine’s Day! I didn’t grow up thinking it was all about romantic dates, flowers, and sweets; my mom took Valentine’s Day and made it a day to show her kids how much she loved them.
Valentine’s Day morning, we would wake up to the heart-shaped pancakes we had been anticipating since the previous Valentine’s Day. During the school day, all I could think about was getting to lunch to see what my mom had packed. I would open my lunch box to all things heart-shaped and red, with a love note written on my napkin. As we all arrived home after school, we were greeted by a fancy table set with my mom’s precious pink china that we hardly ever got to use. There were hearts scattered around the table, cloth napkins, wine glasses filled with sparkling cider … and on each of my siblings’ plate, a small gift. It wouldn’t be much, just something that said, “I thought about you today.” (One year, it was a CD that I had just mentioned I was saving up to get.) For dessert, she would make each of us an individual heart-shaped cake covered with pink frosting and sprinkles.
But honestly, it wasn’t about the pancakes, the gifts, or the cake. What really stands out in my mind was the sacrificial love my mom showed us on Valentine’s Day – a day when she could demand a trip to the movies, an expensive dinner or roses, but instead, she made it about demonstrating kindness and love to her kids … letting us know we are important and valuable. It was completely unexpected – it wasn’t Christmas or our birthdays, and no other family I knew was spending Valentine’s night with a candle-lit dinner around a table with highchairs and booster seats.
But it meant a lot to us as kids.
Now, it’s fun to watch each of my siblings do the same thing with their families. We use this day – one when society says “romance” – to say “love.” Love ... love your kids, encourage your kids, and give them confidence that love doesn’t have to be what they see on TV.
Love is found and built inside your own home.