I know that there are a lot of reasons to love Valentine’s Day- the chocolate, the cute heart decorations, the excuse to go on a romantic date with your significant other, etc.
I also know that there are a lot of people who dread February 14th- or at the very least- grit their teeth and survive it. Growing up, I had a lot of girlfriends who really hated Valentine’s Day- which totally had more to do with the fact that they didn’t have a boyfriend than actually disliking chocolate or red hearts. Until I dated my husband (at age 20), I never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day either and yet I still looked forward to the day and never cared that I was single. Why?
Because my parents always made Valentine’s Day about showing us how much we were loved. And what kid doesn’t want/need to be reminded of that?
Every Valentine’s Day, my siblings and I would wake up to a decorated, beautifully set table (which only happened on special occasions!) with a card on each of our plates and we got to eat donuts for breakfast- which only happened one day a year. February 14th= donut day. 🙂
At school, we’d open our lunches sent by Mom and find a note and/or small gift and a heart shaped sugar cookie that she only made for Valentine’s Day. They are still one of my favorite cookies and she continued this tradition even after we moved out- sending a small gift and batch of cookies to our dorm room in college and now to our respective homes. I was never jealous of the kids who bought a lunch in the cafeteria on those days!
In the evening, we’d anxiously wait for Dad to come home so that we could have a special dinner- again, at the decorated table. My sister and I would spend the afternoon- or sometimes, a few days in advance- making paper doily valentines for everyone and while we helped set the table, we’d circle around it, making stacks of cards on each person’s plate. (I’m pretty sure my parents still have a few somewhere) After dinner, we’d all look at our cards and we’d get a small gift from my dad. I remember a small box of chocolates that were shaped and wrapped to look like crayons one year, and this jewelry box, engraved with my initials from another:
And then, as if all that wasn’t enough, we’d have chocolate mousse for dessert. This was the highlight of the day as it was our favorite dessert- but we only got to have it one day a year- Valentine’s Day.
I love celebrating Valentine’s Day with my husband (he does a lot to make the day really special too!)- but those memories are built on a lifetime of special ones created by my parents for us as we were growing up. They taught us a lot on those days. They taught us that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to show your loved ones how much you love them. They taught us that our self worth and identity was not dependent on having a romantic partner. They modeled a healthy, romantic marriage and taught us some pretty cool ways to be really loving parents. And I’m looking forward to continuing those traditions with our eventual little ones. And in the meantime- Zach and I will just have to enjoy the cookies and chocolate mousse by ourselves! 🙂
Oh, and I’ll be sharing those recipes and a few more Valentine tutorials this week so that you can enjoy them too if you want.