By Madia Karungi
Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, because it celebrates the purpose of life. No, not chocolate, LOVE! We all need to be cherished. But despite our good intentions, too often we forget to tell the people we love just how precious they are to us. Valentines Day can be a wonderful opportunity to remind all of our loved ones (not only our sweethearts) how glad we are that they’re in our lives. Want some ideas to celebrate Valentines Day, when you’re too busy, too broke, and maybe even too harried to remember that you really adore these people you live with?
- Rethink Gifts.
Valentines Gifts are NEVER about the item or product. That teaches all the wrong lessons about love. Make this about the heart to heart expressions that build intimacy and connection. That means handmade cards, extra loving time together, or massages, not purchased gifts. If you must buy a gift, choose it using the GIFT test: does it create more Gratitude, Intimacy, Fondness and Trust between you, or does it just impress? In other words, a bottle of inexpensive champagne, some sandwiches, and an invitation to a massage and picnic supper in bed after the kids are asleep meets this test a lot better than jewelry or candy. For kids or adults, try one of the gift ideas below.
- Alternate gift ideas:
- A Letter of Appreciation.
The best gift of all is always a simple letter to your loved ones detailing how grateful you are to have them in your life. Be as specific as possible; “the way you let me sleep in the morning while you make the kids breakfast” and “the way you sing off key” are even more satisfying than “You’re lovable,” because the recipient feels seen and appreciated. Don’t worry if it isn’t eloquent. Any heartfelt love letter will be cherished by the recipient much more than a store bought gift. This isn’t only for your partner; kids feel loved when we notice who they are and what they contribute to us, our family, and the world. Your kids will reread your letters during tough times. They’ll save them for the rest of their lives.
- Homemade Valentines. Kids feel loved when we spend time making something for them, rather than buying it. Why not make Valentines? This can be as simple as 15 minutes with red construction paper, scissors, and magic markers or as elaborate as a joyful, creative family project for three hours. Need inspiration? There are web sites galore. But I usually stick to the simplest: construction paper hearts with a heartfelt message detailing something you appreciate about the recipient.
- Make the dinner mood festive with a short family dance party
Make the dinner mood festive with a short family dance party before dinner. Don’t forget the romantic slow dance for the grown-ups! After the dancing, eat with candles on the table.
- Spread the love.
Before Valentines Day, invite your kids’ friends to make Valentines. Good music (theirs), delicious snacks (your job) and a digital or instant camera (“Here’s a picture of me making your valentine”) seem to provide enough cool context for teens and even younger teens to let themselves enjoy this project. In fact, inviting friends always seems to double the fun, whatever their age.
- How about a telephone valentine chain?
Call someone dear to your family and pass the phone around to take turns telling this person you love them. Then ask that person to “Pass it forward” by calling someone they love, asking that person to call another, etc.
- Surround yourself with love.
This is the day for your Love Song playlist. Skip the heartbroken ones and go straight for celebration, all day long!
- Love in Practice.
If you’d like your kids to take pride in making the world a better place, Valentines Day is a great opportunity to express love for others by taking valentines goodies or homemade valentines to a nursing home, hospital, or soup kitchen. However you decide to celebrate, I hope February 14 brings more love into your life. Happy Valentines Day!