When my husband and I first started dating, we thought (well, I guess I thought because the he was never really convinced) that we need to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the rest of the country. It seemed mandatory. There was so much pressure, unnecessary pressure. I wanted to be swept away like they do in the movies; I thought having roses delivered to the classroom or office meant your special cuddle bunny loved you extra, because the show of affection was very public. The Hubs thought Valentine’s was pretty dumb and although he expressed it darn openly, he was nice enough to go along with this holiday to humor me. So for the first several years of our relationship, we found ourselves in sucky restaurants that we have never heard of but ended up at because they were the only ones that had any reservations left. Also, we’ve been to fancy restaurants where they were churning out pre-fix dinners in 1 hour blocks and you were basically touching elbows with your neighbors. I’m pretty sure the couple to my right elbow was breaking up, while the couple at my left elbow was on their first date. So much eavesdropping that night!
After several years, I finally saw that going out to a “romantic dinner” on Valentine’s Day was just plain over rated and didn’t do it anymore. It was exhausting. However, I wasn’t sold on this “I love you all the days, not just on February 14th ” reason for not celebrating Valentine’s Day, because although I agree that the pressure of doing a perfect V-day was ridiculous, I love doing something different to symbolize that this was a different day from the day before and day after. Call it Pink and Red Hearts Day, I don’t care. There was something in me that desperately wanted to hold this day as a different day than the other days in February. Perhaps, it is simply for the reason that you can’t ignore that it’s Valentine’s Day; just go to the grocery to pick up milk and you are met with a display of chocolate and heart shaped candy as you enter the store.
For a while, our V-Day boiled down to a minimum, maybe we would go to the movies or have take out or something along those lines. But something sparked in me after we had kids … Valentine’s Day became FUN! Since “Honey” was born, I would buy her little Valentine’s treats and maybe a cute stuffed animal and yelled “Happy Valentine’s Day” at her pretty much throughout the day. When the kids became old enough to be somewhat functional with crafts, we would make Valentine’s decorations together or lay out all of the class Valentine’s cards and address them and basically make a big deal about the upcoming day. Who knew that sorting out Valentine’s card with your kids could be a fun and educational experience for them. They had to spell and write their friends’ names, organize the cards, make executive decisions … “So and So gets the GOOD card because I like him better”. Now, we have a tradition that on Valentine’s Day, the kids get chocolates and a little gift each, usually a book or whatever that is a small but personal gift. Then, we would have a family dinner centered around a Valentine’s - ish dish that I found on Pinterest. We’ve had heart shaped pasta with meatballs in red sauce and another year we made homemade heart shaped pizzas and we would always end with …Valentine’s Dunkin' Donuts.
Maybe it’s me trying to find a special day to look forward to in February; the month where we are still riding out the winter weather and starting to hope for spring time and seeing our manicured toes again. Or perhaps it’s my way of revitalizing a traditionally romantic holiday that was somewhat stress inducing and trying to turn it into a family tradition that we can all enjoy and look forward to. I did not have a lot of family traditions growing up, nothing that stood out at least and I think part of being a grown up and having your own family is creating your own traditions. I want my kids to look back on Valentine’s and other fun days and say “Well, this is what we did in our family … heart shaped sprinkled donuts anyone?”. My husband still can’t understand my renewed excitement for this day and he groans and rolls his eyes when I talk about doing “Valentine’s stuff” … but now, he does it with a sly smile. He’s a sucker for traditions.