02 03 Gallimaufry Grove: Valentine's Day -- Family Style 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Valentine's Day -- Family Style


I started hating Valentine's Day pretty early in life.  Maybe it was the fact that I literally NEVER had a date on the one day that was supposed to prove one's "date-ablility".  So I had the immeasurable pleasure of seeing tons of advertising pushed at me telling me how I was suppposed to spend the day.  Then there were the flowers everyone else got, the cards, the stuffed animals.  Okay, so I never, ever, EVER wanted a stuffed animal for Valentine's day. Who does that?  But the flowers -- now that was a different story.  I didn't necessarily want the guy.  Just his flowers.  I was shallow.

And then I started watching my friends.  Almost without fail, they fell into two categories.  I affectionately call them "The Haves and the Have Nots."  Either they, like me, were doomed to spend the evening alone watching the perfect relationship on television, or they had a date. And almost without fail, those who had a date were emotionally deflated the next day.  No one can live up to the  hype that precedes the holiday.  No matter what the poor guy does for his Valentine, it will never be enough, because the media wizards have made sure you saw someone else get something better.

Then there is the whole premise of a holiday that demands a guy do something spectacular or I won't be happy.  What is with that?  I mean, no pressure or anything.  I'm amazed that men everywhere don't revolt.  Seriously.  They should start a coup to take back the day.  Think of all the money and drama they would save.

Once I was married and had children, I decided I would mount my own personal coup.  I would stop the madness and take back the day for my family.  So without further ado, here is Valentine's Day -- Family Style.

Valentine's Day -- Family Style

*This very first thing I did was to get rid of ALL expectations.  That means I don't expect anything from my husband.  Nothing.  Nada.  He is safe from the horrendous experience most men must have of trying to tip-toe around their wife/girlfriend's expectations of the perfect date and/or gift.  If my husband happens to bring me flowers or something, I am pleasantly surprised and thankful.  The flowers will grace the table at dinner.  But if he brings me nothing at all, I am not disappointed.  If he is late for dinner, that is okay.  If he can't make it or needs to be out of town, no problem.  We can reschedule.  You would be amazed at how much easier it is to enjoy the holiday when all the expectations are removed.

*I stopped looking to media or friends for my idea of what Valentine's Day should be.  All the media wants is to get us to part with our money.  I defy them.  Comparing myself to my friends or the media only leads to discontentment, so I. don't. do it.

*I asked myself what I wanted to celebrate, if anything.  I thought about not celebrating at all, but I found something in the holiday that I could appreciate.  Done right, it can be a celebration of the love and commitment my husband and I have for each other AND the children that are a result.  Now that is something to celebrate.

*Once I knew what I wanted to celebrate, the how came pretty easy.  I didn't want to shove the kids away if I was celebrating the love and commitment that brought them into this world.  So for us, Valentine's Day is a family holiday.  My kid's really don't know what the rest of the world thinks Valentine's Day is about.  At our house, it isn't about soppy romance, it's about family.

*Every year for Valentine's Day I plan a special meal and a special dessert.  After dinner, I send the kids on a treasure hunt.  I cut out paper hearts and write clues on them.  The kids have to figure out the riddle to find the next clue.  At the end of the hunt is, of course, a treasure.  For the treasure, I wrap a gift for each child.  Sometimes the gift is candy. Sometimes it's a small item they want.  Sometimes it's both.  Sometimes we will play games, sometimes not.  Regardless, everyone enjoys the evening.

If you want to join my Valentine's Day Rebellion, it's easy.  Just release everyone from the expectations.  Then plan a special meal, some fun activities and invite your family and/or friends.  If you decide to do a treasure hunt, here's a little tip for you:  Start backwards.  Hide the treasure first, then write a clue about how to find it.  Hide that clue and write another clue about how to find the first clue and so on.  It's much easier to avoid confusion or missed clues that way.  The older the kids, the more clues you will need and the harder your hints should be.  But trust me.  Kids don't grow out of treasure hunts.  All those pirate maps still hold appeal for a reason.

What do you do for Valentine's Day?  Give us your ideas in the comment section -- we would love to hear them!

Have a great day!


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