Forget roses and prix fixe dinners. This February 14, I just want a few handmade Valentine’s Day cards.
Because always chocolate.
Ever since I was a kid, Valentine’s Day has always meant friendship and platonic love. When I was in maybe 3rd grade, my younger sister lost all her valentines. All the tiny packs of candy, the Disney-themed cards, the hand-signed doilies—gone. She was heartbroken.
Later that night, I went through my own haul. I crossed off “Catherine” on every darn card and wrote in my sister’s name instead.
I then gave her a paper sack filled with cards from my classmates to cheer her up.
It should be no surprise, then, that when I think of Valentine’s Day, I don’t get goo-goo over the romantic aspects of the holiday. Instead, I melt at the memory of mailboxes made out of Kleenex boxes, carefully writing friends’ names on Ariel the Little Mermaid cards and the chalky taste of Sweethearts I choked down in the interest of reading the messages.
Now that I have kids, I get to relive the sweet, innocent side of the holiday—partly through crafting handmade Valentine’s Day cards.
Cookie sprinkles, a rented movie and a rainy hike: this is what our Valentine’s Day dreams are made of.
We celebrated Valentine’s Day in a pretty low-key way over here. We baked cookies and brownies (because chocolate). Peeper helped make individual pizzas and even ate hers—bell peppers and all. (Thank you Daniel Tiger episode—”Try new foods ’cause they might taste good!”) Eric and I watched Silver Linings Playbook while snuggling and eating popcorn on the couch. (It was the first time we watched a movie together at home since Kiwi was born. It may have taken us two nights to finish, but we did it!)
We also ignored the forecast of 100% rain and headed to the woods.
Spending a holiday outside
We went to Wilderness Park, our go-to hiking spot. Peeper set off at a sprint, and one boot flew off as she zoomed down a hill. Kiwi kicked and babbled as we meandered through the deep greens of the forest. Raindrops pattered on our jackets, but the weather had scared off just about everyone else: We had the trail to ourselves.
Halfway through the hike, I realized this was exactly how we spent last Valentine’s Day. Only Kiwi is a gurgling, smiling, squirming munchkin on the outside, and Peeper has gotten huge: She no longer needs a hand when climbing over logs, and even Finn can barely keep up with her.
Walking under the Douglas firs, I reflected on how much has changed in a year. We have survived our share of rough transitions—from one to two kids, from the rock n play to the cosleeper, from not sleeping to sleeping sometimes.
We have grown into our family of four. And this Valentine’s Day, we had even more love to go around.
Peeper and I went to the Dollar Store for a special mama-daughter adventure. We got, among other things, an absurd number of heart balloons.
We made it home without any of the balloons floating away or causing a traffic accident. On the drive, I had told Peeper about how we’d take a picture with Kiwi and the balloons, and she could watch Daniel Tiger afterwards. (Yes, a blatant bribe. I stand by that tactic.)
So I set up the sisters with the balloons, turned on my camera and got ready to photograph some serious cuteness.
Peeper resisted. She flopped on her back. She cried. She squirmed away.
Peeper’s fit frightened her little sister, so Kiwi began to cry, too.
I gave up. I nearly cried. I did not feel like a good mother or even a good enough mother. Read more →
Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap—It’s a Hallmark holiday, it makes singles feel like crap, etc.—but at its most pure, the day is all about telling those you adore how they light up your life. What’s not to love about that?
But as many of us know (you haters included, I’d bet), it can feel downright awful when your mailbox is empty of heart-shaped doilies and amorous puns.
At a recent playdate Peeper and I attended, we did our best to alleviate some of the pink blues for a few folks.
We helped the toddlers craft handmade Valentine’s Day cards that our friend delivered to seniors in a memory care facility. Peeper’s friends really got into the craft, too!
We simply cut heart shapes out of painter’s tape, stuck them to cards let the kiddos at ’em. One piece of advice: Wait until the paint is fully dry before peeling off the tape; otherwise, the tape doesn’t come up clean.
Our friend later told us that the seniors loved the cards: They showed them to each other at dinner, smiling. Some of the memory care patients might not remember what year it is, but pretty much everyone likes feeling remembered.
Has there ever been a time when a valentine—or any other thoughtful gesture—surprised you and made you feel special?
I hope that today and every day you feel loved. Whether or not you have a romantic partner, a spouse or children, you do have friends who delight in you. They may marvel at your compassion. They may turn to you when they need a good cry. They may even laugh at your terrible puns.
Even if you think Valentine’s Day is a (sneer) Hallmark holiday, undermine its materialistic underpinnings by telling someone what he or she means to you. Pay for a stranger’s coffee. Give an extra-long hug.