There appear to be three different kinds of Valentine’s Day people. You either love the day, despise the day, or if you’re like my forever Valentine- you do it for the kids.
Somewhere along the way, Valentine’s Day was marketed to romantic love, adding that forever stress and anxiety to single people everywhere making them feel that if they don’t have a fancy date reservation at an expensive restaurant, they’re doing something wrong. Guess what? I really didn’t like the holiday growing up. Except, my forever Valentine always made it special.
In grade school, Valentine’s Day was all about who got the most Valentine’s Day cards, who gave the best candy treats, and who baked the most delicious sugary treats.
Then, in high school, it turned into who received the most carnations. Did you get a flower? Oh. You didn’t? That’s a bummer. Maybe next year someone will love you. Except, my forever Valentine loved me.
But cards and flowers and candy don’t define us! Why do we lower our value to monetary or quantifiable things?! By we, clearly, I mean me. I mean sure, I want those home-baked cookies that taste delicious, but those don’t show my worth. My forever Valentine always made me feel valued.
I’m not a person with a lot of friends. I’m talking about those rare, valuable, always-have-your-back friends that will drop literally whatever they are doing and either listen or help you with whatever you need. I set the bar pretty high, what can I say? With that being said, gift items mean more to me when they’re intentional and not expected for show on a ‘day of love’. My forever Valentine showed me love.
Let’s rewind though, what is love? Are we talking about romantic love? Are we talking about family love? Are we talking about a full day of love for everyone all around?
For me, on Valentine’s Day, I choose to celebrate chocolate and love all around, and more particularly with my kids. My forever Valentine, my amazing selfless mom showed me the way and set that meaningful bar pretty dang high.
A long time ago, my siblings and I grew up with the necessities (or at least by the time it came to having me- the fifth child). My mom did everything she could to make each one of us feel special and loved- and by goodness, she did. Every year, I remember waking up to the half cleaned dining room table with a box of chocolates with my name on it (and one for each of my siblings too). I think there may have been some small trinkets or a book when I was really young, but I don’t fully remember those. I remember that one small box of chocolates, every-single-year.
When I started college, my freshman year Valentine’s Day rolled around and we had a basketball game that day. I wasn’t able to make it home, and I was struggling EXTRA hard that day. After the game, as always, my parents waited for me and my mom had that one box of chocolates for me. I told her I would never have a good Valentine’s Day without her.
SHE makes the holiday special. Full disclosure, and I think I have even told my husband that my mom’s box of chocolates means so much more to me than anyone else’s.
Maybe it’s the history, maybe it’s that unbreakable tradition, maybe it’s knowing my siblings don’t get that box of chocolates still- so clearly she loves me more. Just kidding, she loves us equally (they might be reading this, after all).
So, what about my kids? They are still so young and haven’t learned about school pressure yet. However, you better believe I’m going to try to replicate those same simple traditions that my mom started. I don’t believe in big, extravagant gestures. I don’t like expensive things. I prefer simple, meaningful, thoughtful gestures.
Last year, my daughter was three and my son was one and a half. I saw small boxes of chocolates at the grocery store and snuck them into the cart without the kids seeing. I got them home, and somehow hid the chocolates from both kids- mom win! I had a small heart-shaped balloon from last year that was still good. So, I cleaned my kitchen, cleared off our kitchen island, and made a small, simple Valentine’s Day set up for the kids. I think I even grabbed a small toy for each kid because I can’t say no to stuffed toys.
I still remember when my daughter woke up and came out to the kitchen to see my Valentine’s Day display. It was like Christmas came again, but with chocolate.
That moment meant so much to me. I’m sure she’ll forget it, heck, she’s only four now. I hope to carry out that tradition of mom-love every year. Valentine’s Day is one Hallmark holiday in a calendar of cards, but that simple gesture of a small box of chocolates goes a long way.
My daughter loves the Daniel Tiger episode, “I love you day”, or some title like that. I started calling Valentine’s Day, “I love you day.” It’s an extra special day to show someone you love them with a handwritten card or a toddler painting of a heart with a rainbow. It’s the simple gestures that mean the most (in our family).
For those that are in the “despise Valentine’s Day” category, this is in no way saying your way is wrong. I get it. Everyone has their reasons for why they do or do not celebrate. Heck, we don’t do Santa Claus or the tooth fairy in my house.
No one is obligated to paint a card, give you a hug (socially distanced, of course, mask up), and no one is obligated to tell you, “I love you”. Which makes it that much more meaningful when someone chooses to do so.
My kids may not remember these “I love you days,” but I hope they don’t lose that feeling of love that I share with them every single day. The love shared through tearful hugs after they fall down. Or, the tearful hugs when I’m so happy they actually listened to me.