Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day! We "heart" Family Dinners.



I guess I could use this post to lament the decline in romantic dinners once you have a family. Or I could cavil about the rise of kid's commercialism that has made Valentine's Day almost another Halloween for the preschool and elementary school set. But that would be totally false. I love that Valentine's Day is a kid's holiday. After all those years of sad, anxiety-ridden Valentine's Days that I remember from middle school, high school and early dating, I'm glad to shun the "New Year's Eve for lovers" taint of Valentine's Day. Frankly, I'm just happy to have a few chocolates or heart-shaped cookies with my family and call it a day. (The ones above were made by my 9-year old daughter for her class.)

If you have kids, you know: the new rule of the classroom is that if you give one kid a Valentine, you must give all kids a Valentine. This goes a long way to reduce hurt feelings, although your child's cubby and backpack will be filled with many little paper notes and sweet treats on the way home today. In the first grade at my kids' school, they use Valentine's Day as part of a post office study to encourage letter writing. There is a super cute book (Queen of Hearts by Mary Engelbreit) about making Valentine's Day mailboxes that really spurs the kids' crafty-creativity.

We trump up holidays a lot in my family, although it is totally in a dorky, homespun, kind of way. We make paper hearts and hang them on the walls. We read holiday-themed books with their favorite characters. If I can, I make a favorite dinner or dessert. Some of these activities are naturally falling away as my older kids' age into tween and teenager territory. But we do have that 2-year old bringing up the rear. Her presence "allows" the older kids to savor and enjoy the simple joys of a holiday, as they make paper hearts or draw pictures with her. These "Hallmark-holidays" are as good a time as any to make memories around your kitchen table.

More Family Valentine's Day Ideas:
Scans of 1950s Children's Valentines. So cool! Found through BoingBoing.net, full set at James Kimberlin's Flickr.com.
Activities and Parenting Ideas from Family Education
Valentine Craft Ideas from Mary Engelbreit
Stonewall Kitchen Sugar Cookie Mix: I often have bad luck with sugar cookies. The rolling and the cutting should be easy enough, but often my shapes are totally wrong and it's a mess. My daughter was given this mix with a special heart cookie cutter as a gift and it worked great. Beautiful results and they tasted really good.

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