I found myself talking to her about how it feels to receive a nice card in the mail, or when someone sends you a little something just because they appreciate you. Her Mimi and her Papa send her lots of little stuff from the East cost throughout the year, and it always makes her day when she gets mail, so she really took to this explanation. She immediately went into planning mode, naming everyone who could use a little a little “Valentine cheer” (as she put it).
But curiosity got the best of me, so I did check with the smart people at Wikipedia for a quick history lesson on the origin of St. Valentine’s Day. It was first established in 500 A.D. by Pope Gelasius I, and was named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine. It was later deleted from the Roman calendar by Pope Paul VI; although it’s religious observance is still permitted. Valentine’s Day first became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages. Today we often mark the day with cards, flowers, and/or chocolates. The advertising starts before the Christmas decorations are down, and the greeting card industry in particular appreciates our love of sending one another a little love via snail mail.
My husband has a strange job that really doesn’t account for holidays or allow for dinners during the week, so I can’t really remember the last time we actually celebrated Valentine’s Day. Last year he was on tour and happened to be in Connecticut when Cupid struck, so he actually ended up seeing my mom on Valentine’s Day! Even though we rarely do the Valentine’s Day dinner thing, I still really like the idea of a day when we all show a little extra love and appreciation for one another. Life is busy, it’s nice to slow down and bake some heart shaped cookies and glue some glitter to a card.
Two of the things that I really appreciate about my mom are her love of holidays and her love of sending cards. My mom likes to celebrate everything (which I’m thinking might be genetic, based on my daughter’s love of “celebrations”). If I had to pick one, I would say that Christmas is probably her favorite holiday, but Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July would be tied for second. Judging by the amount of singing animals dressed in different holiday outfits in my house, you could say that she falls right into the target audience for Hallmark and just can’t pass a holiday display without stocking up. But I honestly think that what she really likes is getting people together to celebrate, and spreading holiday cheer through the mail for those who can’t make it. She is definitely a grandmother; she sends everything that she never wanted in her own house. And she truly can’t wait for the phone call to hear how psyched the kids are about the singing chickens (by the way, those chickens have been celebrating Easter around here all year long!) and oversized chocolate lollipops.
I remember our Valentine’s Day celebrations growing up. We would arrive to the breakfast table to find a card and a small present for each of us (except the year that we got plane tickets to Disney World…that was BIG). While most of my friends’ families didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family, I believe it helped us to appreciate one another. For years, my brother and I never worried about having an actual Valentine, because we always sent a funny one to each other. I would love for my kids to grow up knowing that they will always get a little “Valentine cheer” from one another, no matter where life takes them.
I listened in as my husband helped my daughter start making her Valentines this morning. He stood back and offered to help if she needed it, but she knew what she was doing. Each one has a very specific design, and she clearly stated the recipient of each one as she made them. We could see the excitement I her eyes as she worked.
I often hear people lamenting February 14th. It seems the cool thing to do is to say, “Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday”. In some respects, I guess this is true. What started out as a day to commemorate a couple of Christian martyrs later morphed into a celebration of romantic love via hand written cards. Today the greeting card industry takes most of the credit, and the makers of E-cards make up the slack for those who forget to buy the cards on time. But at it’s core (when you strip away the endless advertising and singing bears), isn’t it just a day to show a little extra appreciation to your loved ones? I struggle to find the negative in that.
In fact, I’m really excited for it. The heart shaped cookie cutters are clean and ready for use next weekend. The small gifts have been purchased and the cards headed for the East coast are ready for mailing (much like my mom, I love the idea of brightening someone’s day with a simple card in the mail). I love my husband and my kids more than I can even describe, and I certainly don’t need a special day to tell them that (like my daughter said, we say it every day), but I look forward to our little Valentine love fest before my daughter heads off to preschool and my husband disappears into the studio. If there’s a reason to celebrate, why not do it?
And I can’t wait to see what the kids create for me…while they are constantly making pictures and other creations, the “secret surprises” are always much appreciated.
I feel good about taking a day to teach my kids to slow down and appreciate one another. They already have a great little bond forming, and I truly hope that they will remain best buddies throughout their lives. The world can be an overwhelming place, I like the idea of focusing on family every chance I get.
What do you think? Is Valentine’s Day just another Hallmark take-over or is it really a chance to share the love?