I was going to write this post for next Friday, Valentine’s Day.  But it occurred to me that on Valentine’s might be too late to plan for Valentine’s Day.  So, I’ll wrap up The Child Friendly Home series next Friday.  On to Valentines…

everyday valentines

Our society has done a great job of turning a priest who was martyred for secretly performing wedding ceremonies against the edict of Emperor Claudius into a cute chunky baby with wings surrounded by confetti and flowers and chocolate and pretty pink and red hearts.

For a long time I sort of rebelled against Valentine’s Day for just that reason.

Then the pendulum swung the other way, and I contemplated celebrating by remembering the real Valentine.  Maybe cards with a picture of a bruised and bleeding man?  How about red velvet cake to picture the blood shed during his stoning?  Maybe we’d like headless gingerbread men, to remind us the third stage of his execution was decapitation.  It starts to look a little too much like Halloween, doesn’t it?  And we don’t really go in for grotesque and creepy at Valentine’s Day.

{{Do you get a glimpse of my inner rebel, here?  I’m not all that nice sometimes.  I just thought you should know that.}}

Holidays – originally Holy Days – started as days set aside for special worship.  A more contemporary definition might be that a holiday is a day set aside by cultural practice to honor a particular idea, person, or event.

Valentine laid his life on the line because he believed the committed and sacrificial love of marriage was sacred.

Love that is committed and sacrificial is worth honoring.

I can do Valentine’s Day like that.

  • I want to take time to honor my husband for being faithful to our marriage vows.
  • I want to see the beauty of marriages with a worn patina that shows a joint life well lived.
  • I want to think about being the bride of Christ – and what that wedding banquet will entail.
  • I want to enjoy our children, the product of a committed and sacrificial love.

I’m not saying every moment of the day has to be dripping with importance, but I don’t want to be so consumed with sentiment that I miss the significance.  I also don’t want to miss the fun.

Inner rebel aside, I’ve come to a place where I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in appropriate ways.  I want to be deliberate to draw attention to what is important in my family with whatever I use to celebrate, which means I can embrace hearts, pink and red, and chocolate (whew!).  I can infuse meaning in these as we honor sacrificial and committed love.

  • Heart shaped foods:  bacon, boiled eggs, waffles, and sandwiches are fun.  I’ll just serve them with a side of “I love you because of who you are, not what you do.”
  • We can take time as a family to write things we love about each member on little hearts and make a garland or wreath to hang in the kitchen.
  • We can make pink and white candies to deliver to an elderly neighbor.
  • We can spend time making memories as we cover candy hearts with chocolate. There’s bound to be an object lesson in seeing black hearts with snowy white insides.
  • Heart shaped cookies or cake – with a casual reminder of how sweet life is because of the person helping to make them or receiving them.
  • Maybe you have that special date with your spouse – but focus more on the time together than whether it is “romantic” enough.
  • You kids may enjoy exchanging cards with classmates at school.  Is there just a moment they could take to say what they like about each person on the class list?  Or to pray for their classmates as they label the candy?
  • Maybe they could try to think of an act of kindness to express to each student (and their teacher) as they go through the Valentine’s party.
  • Maybe there is someone who works behind the scenes at the school who needs to know they are appreciated?  Cafeteria ladies?  Custodians?  The secretary?

I guess you could say I have gone from being a “Valentine’s protestor” to a “celebration promoter.”  And it doesn’t stop with Valentine’s Day.

You see, I can get so wrapped up in getting through the days, I often forget to celebrate the ordinary.  So I have to be intentional about it.  Where holidays naturally draw my attention to things worth honoring, I have to be diligent to notice the little things which need to be celebrated as well.   I need to be deliberate about forcing stops along the road to have a party.

In months where we have no official holidays (and even in some where we do) we make up holidays or join in crazy celebrations.

  • Star Wars’ Day (May the 4th be with you)
  • Cinco de Mayo is a great day to have Mexican food. (May is a well celebrated month!)
  • Pi day (I am a mathematician, after all – or is everyone looking forward to 3/14/15 at 9:26:53?  Pi=3.141592653…).
  • We make chocolate pie to celebrate snow.
  • We might make rainbow jello to celebrate the never-ending April showers.
  • We may have a cake to celebrate #6 learning to tie a bow or have a “Smartie Party” when #7 uses the potty.
  • Maybe 4-alarm chili would be a good way to celebrate everyone getting up the first time the alarm went off.

There are so many little victories that risk going unnoticed.  I want to be the one to notice and call our attention to them.  I want to celebrate the ordinary as well as the extraordinary.  I want to send “Valentines” every day.

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Photo by Pom445 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons