It’s Valentine’s Day and you are perhaps planning a special meal for your family or thinking of ways to show them you love them. Are you looking for some new ideas?
In our household, we love traditions. I started many traditions when my children were little that are centered on familiar holidays, like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and yes, even Valentine’s Day. I started these specifically to not only draw attention to the significance of that holiday, but also to reinforce the value of our family life together.
For Valentine’s Day, here’s what we have done for many years—
I introduced the real story of St. Valentine when my kids were young so they could know where Valentine’s Day came from and understand its likely Christian roots. There are a couple of books that suggest how we came to have a Valentine’s Day. The Story of Valentine features a real Catholic saint Valentine who in AD 269 befriended his jailer’s blind daughter after being thrown in prison by then emperor Claudius for worshipping the one, true God. Valentine is credited with the young woman’s healing, though whether it was by his knowledge of herbs as a physician or by a divine miracle it is uncertain. The real Valentine was beheaded for his Christian faith, but is said to have sent a letter to the blind girl before his death signed, “From your Valentine.” Many years after his death, Valentine’s Day was initiated and associated with romantic love which we carry on to this day.
Some other educational or fun Valentine’s Day themed books include Appolonia’s Valentine, The Story of Valentine’s Day, Valentines are for Saying I Love You, The Ballad of Valentine, Saint Valentine, and The Story of Valentine’s Day picture book.
Besides reading Valentine’s Day story and themed books as a family, during our family devotion time, we also read portions from the Bible about the love of God for us and His call for us to love one another. Christ’s love for undeserving sinners is the greatest love story of all!
Another tradition I started when my children were very young is writing notes of love to each of them, and encouraging them to write them to one another. In addition to my husband Chris and I writing a love note or letter to each other, we would write short notes on colored, heart-shaped paper to each of our children. Many years I would even create custom valentines with pretty paper, stickers, doilies, etc.
We would then each of us place our notes in a Valentine’s Box, which was just a cardboard box covered in white butcher paper with a cut-out double door on the front and a big slot cut out on the top. The box was then decorated to look like a little post office with windows, trees with hearts growing on the branches, and flowers popping up in the shape of pink and red hearts. Our box is so old, we’ve had to recover it!
On Valentine’s Day over dinner we would pull all the notes and letters out of the box’s big front door, pass them out to family members, and read them out loud to each other. All my kids, save one, are adults and they still want to get out the Valentine Box and share words of love for one another!
Valentine’s Day Tea
For many years in our homeschooling, one day each week in the afternoon I would celebrate a simple afternoon tea with my children and read a piece of classic literature out loud to them as they munched on their cookies and drank their tea. I wanted to have a special time for them to look forward to reading together beautiful stories, but as they got older and school subjects got more challenging and time consuming, I found it difficult to do tea every week.
Loving to do afternoon tea for several reasons and not wanting to lose this tradition, I decided to prepare at least once a year a very delicious High Tea for my family to say “I love you” in a special way. I make things scones and clotted cream, chocolate-dipped strawberries, homemade cookies, savory sandwiches and several pots of tea. It’s a meal in itself!
What is most meaningful about our Valentine’s Day tea is the sense that my children (and my late husband Chris) have is that they are the most important people in the world to me, and that God brought each one of us together to be family. The love of God is what brings us together and what keeps us together forever, no matter how old we get or where life takes us. Saying “I love you” will never grow old.
Enjoy the journey...there's no place like home,