I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day.
When I was a little girl, I loved signing teeny little cards and sealing them with teeny little stickers. I loved putting notes in my friends’ cardboard mailboxes, and I loved reading all the valentines I would get in return from them.
I loved the big red paper heart my mom always put on the kitchen door and the cupcakes she made for me with heart-shapes stuck in the icing.
I remember getting a gift from my daddy every year: flowers, a basket holding two little stuffed white kittens with pink ribbons around their necks and a little pin with two teddy bears sitting on a loveseat (I still have it, thirty years later.)
When your parents make you feel extra special, those times that stick with you.
This week, my husband took our three girls to a program at the library called Chocolates for Dads and Daughters. Together, they taste-tested all kinds of chocolate, played a guess-the-candy game (think Swashbuckling Trio = Three Musketeers) and then the four of them made chocolate-dipped spoons (with sprinkles!) and little Hershey Kiss rose bouquets.
When I asked 7-year-old Josie what the best part was, she thought for a second. Then she said, “Well, I liked making the roses, but my really favorite part was having Dad there. He acted like a kid. He did crafts with us and everything.”
Later on in the week, we spent an entire evening making homemade valentines (and I don’t mean Martha Stewart homemade. I mean pink-construction-paper-stickers-and-creativity-homemade.)
It was fun to see their final products, though: little lop-sided happy faces, slanted hearts and squiggly handwriting proclaiming “I love you Mom!” or “You’re cute!” or “I love my family!”
This is the first year that 4-year-old Adelaide has been able to sign her own name and use scissors well enough to cut hearts from paper (well, sort of.) She also made a collage with pretty valentine-y pictures she found in a magazine.
Jed, her 2-year-old brother, “helped” her by stealing the glue-stick and rubbing it all over the table and then his head. He also tried to swipe her scissors while yelling “I cut! I CUT!”
8-year-old Sadie, decorator extraordinaire, put herself in charge of covering the kitchen and family room with hearts, cupids and pink paper lanterns.
Once the house was appropriately decorated, we played a game I found on-line called “Don’t Eat Pete.” It’s very simple – just a sheet of paper with 9 cute little Valentine monsters on it. After we put a little candy conversation heart on each monster, one person had to leave the room. Everyone else looked at the paper and decided which monster was “Pete.” Then the child who left the room came back in and started taking the hearts off one by one. But if the child grabbed the heart on the monster designated as “Pete,” everyone else yelled “DON’T EAT PETE!” and cracked themselves up.
The game was a rousing success. We would’ve played longer, but after our fifth round, Jed gobbled up half the candies while we were trying to decide which monster was going to be Pete.
Later, we made heart tarts with puff pastry and strawberry jam, and then the girls helped their dad make some chocolate-covered strawberries and bananas for me.
Now, I like a chocolate-covered strawberry just as much as the next girl, but one thing I’ve learned about Valentine’s Day over the years is this:
The sweetest thing of all is spending time with my family.