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My husband and I have been married for 10 years and have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. Nope, we just can’t get into the cheesy, over-the-top holiday as a couple. We’ve never even gifted each other chocolates, flowers, or a card. But since we’ve become parents, we can’t help but celebrate the love of our children every year on Feb. 14 by giving them a couple of gifts.
When I was younger, I remember coming home from school on Valentine’s Day, and my mother would have a heart-shaped cookie and a box covered in red wrapping paper waiting for me on the kitchen table. These gifts were never anything big. When I was in grade school, she got me a Barbie dressed in red and pink. As I got older, she usually bought me a shirt or an accessory in the same colors. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a grandiose gift; it was that my mother went out of her way to think about me on this day of love.
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When I was a teenager, I rarely had a boyfriend (that’s what growing up with three Greek brothers will do to a girl), so sometimes Valentine’s Day felt a bit lonely. All day I would see my friends receiving flowers and hear about their big plans for the evening ahead. So, the small tokens that my mother would get for me helped remind me that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about romantic love. It can be a celebration of any kind of love in your life — with a best friend, coworker, parent, sibling, or child. And I’m sure that when she was buying those gifts, my mother had no idea that she was starting a beloved tradition that would be passed down to the next generation.
During the month of February, I like to make a few Valentine’s Day crafts with the kids. We get out the construction paper and glue, and messy cutout hearts end up all over the floor. I also try to bake some cookies (from a box, of course) with the kids and let them lick the pink frosting off their fingers. And on the big day, when they get home from school, just like my mother, I have a couple of little gifts waiting for them on the table. I always buy an inexpensive Valentine’s Day book, a craft they can do, and possibly a small toy from the Dollar Store. My kids tear through the red wrapping paper, just as I used to, and find the treasures inside. They are grateful for the surprise in the middle of Winter and even say thank you without being prompted.