How Our Family Celebrates Valentine's Day

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Our family likes to celebrate. We celebrate holidays and people and babies who haven’t yet seen the light of day. Valentine’s Day is no exception. In the course of homeschooling, we taught our young girls about St. Valentine and the historical basis for the celebration, but we also focused on Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate the love of God and the love of family. 

Love is Giving

Our sweet little ones grew up and somewhere along the line, our gift of miniature heart-shaped boxes of chocolates morphed into bags of Lindt truffles and Valentine’s cards carefully chosen by Dad and signed by both of us. But that’s not what my girls are looking forward to this Valentine’s Day. 

Love is Sharing

I’m not even sure when our tradition began, but I remember thinking that girls want valentines. They want to feel special and valued and loved. I figured that if they didn’t get that at home, they would search for it elsewhere. So 10-plus years ago I decided to share my valentine. 

Love is Faithful

Yes, I think it’s important that our girls know that their dad and I are in love and that I am his #1 woman, but celebrating Valentine’s Day with overpriced restaurant dinners and red roses isn’t the only way to show our love. The girls see how my husband honors and prefers me every day of the year, how we serve each other, how we have faithfully planned date nights every month for the past ten years, and how we want to be together. Just the two of us. As much as possible. So I don’t mind sharing for a few years, because after that he’ll be all mine.

Love is Honoring

Since my birthday falls during the week of Valentine’s Day, we have a date to celebrate both occasions and then we celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family. We try to honor the girls as we would someday expect their husbands to, by making it a special evening with dinner served in the dining room on china or our nicer plates. The menu usually includes a new recipe of something elegant, sometimes several courses, and always concludes with a delicious dessert. Sometimes the girls dressed up, sometimes dad cooked, and sometimes we moved a table into the family room. But the best is what happened after dinner. 

Love is Belonging

Every year Harold turns on the same CD, one that he and I often listened to while we were engaged, and then he takes a turn dancing with each daughter—yes, I get a turn, too! I love to watch the whispers, the giggles and the smiles as they each have their moment feeling special, and treasured, and loved. Sometimes the daughters went back for a second dance, sometimes they dressed up in my old bridesmaid gowns, sometimes sisters danced with sisters since our family is sorely lacking other male dance partners. But at the end of the night, each girl knew that they belonged to a family who loved them dearly.  

Love is Preferring

This year we were honored to be invited to participate in a special dinner event at our church on Valentine’s night. Of the two daughters at home, one was working late and we considered having the other join us at the event, but we realized that our youngest would probably only have two more Valentine’s Days with us. She was overjoyed to learn that we had chosen to stay home and that we will be continuing our Valentine Family Celebration tradition.  

Love is Timeless

Life changes so quickly but we never outgrow love.  Last year we celebrated with only the youngest. The other daughter living at home had chosen to be a part of an amazing regional event of Christian young people who were gathering for prayer and worship, another daughter was settled in Dallas, and another was serving as a missionary in Mexico. In April, our missionary daughter returned and that night, her Dad put on the “dancing CD,” held out his hand and said, “We missed our Valentine dance.” As I type this, I am still teary-eyed as I remember the love in his eyes and the tears on her face as she was once again reminded that she was special and treasured and loved by our family. Some would say that it was a little late, but love is always on time.

13th Birthday Celebration

Some families celebrate birthdays in a big way and others barely acknowledge the day aside from any other.  Our family has chosen to honor and celebrate each child, on each birthday, as a confirmation of their uniqueness and identity.  Since no child is the same, no celebration is the same; however, each celebration must have the elements of honor and surprise. Recently, our youngest turned 13.  Since we’ve chosen not to use the term “teenager,” the age 13 is not so special to our family but in the mind of our youngest daughter it represented a milestone.  It was shaping up to be a pretty uneventful day since I had nothing special planned and no precious gift to give.  (A month earlier we had helped her purchase an upgrade to her violin—an early birthday present—so she would have time to get used to it before her spring recital.) Since she was already aware of her gift, we were searching for some sort of surprise that would also show her honor.

With only two weeks to spare, God inspired me to honor Abigail by inviting 13 friends—ages 5 to mid 30’s-- to celebrate with her.  (Abigail loves her family, but she is an encourager and has quite a collection of friends and pen pals!)  I chose Dad as her first friend and sent emails to the parents of 12 of Abigail’s close friends explaining my plan.  (I would’ve sent invitations, but I didn’t really consider it a party and the idea came to me kid of last minute.)  I would purchase 13 pink roses.  Each guest would arrive between 7 and 8 pm bringing one rose and a card or letter of blessing.  Cake and ice cream would be served promptly at 8 pm.  I knew that some friends had prior commitments for that evening and may not be able to participate so I asked for RSVPS’s to make sure all 12 would be present.  Amazingly, every friend but one was able to make adjustments to the schedule and participate in honoring Abigail.

On Abigail’s special day, we celebrated as we celebrate each birthday--donuts in bed.  Along with the donuts, Abigail found a small gift on her tray—a fancy green key to our home on a cool key chain.  This has become a traditional gift for 13th birthdays.  It is more symbolic than practical, but as the girls get older they sometimes have need of a key after a babysitting job.  It’s our way of saying, “You are responsible.”

In the afternoon, Abigail and I went to Starbucks for a surprise meeting with Miss Kelly, a young woman who sings on the worship team with Abigail and the one of the 13 special friends who was unable to attend our evening celebration. She presented Abigail with a pink rose tied with a ribbon and bought her a Passion Fruit Tea Lemonade.  The three of us chatted together for about 20 minutes and then Miss Kelly had to go back to work.

While Abigail and I were at Starbucks, two of my older daughters baked and frosted a cake, shined the bathroom, and delivered the roses to Abigail’s friends.  Some of the roses were delivered to the church, a central location for others to pick them up, and some to friends in the neighborhood and surrounding area.  When we arrived home, the house was completely ready for a surprise celebration.

Dad came home from work and presented Abigail with a pink rose—tied with the same ribbon.  Abigail remarked how it was the same ribbon as Miss Kelly’s, but didn’t catch on.  Dinner was Abigail’s choice, taco salad, and then she opened her presents from the family.  Just as we were finishing, the first guest arrived, followed quickly by the next friend.  By the third rose presented by the third friend, Abigail had caught on.  For the next hour, friends, siblings and parents arrived, one family at a time, until at 8 pm we all sang and she blew out the candles on the traditional Moore Family Birthday Cake.  (Recipe)

The celebration was a success.  Our sweet daughter enjoyed our special time together as a family.  She was also quite surprised and honored by her friends’ presence and their sweet words of life to her.  Daughter honored and surprised.  Mission accomplished.

 

Post a comment and tell us about a special birthday celebration in your family

Happy New Year!

I was born to celebrate—birthdays, holidays, and major or minor accomplishments.  I celebrate New Year’s Day like many other Americans and make a list of Yew Year’s resolutions, but in my heart I’ve always felt a sense of new beginnings in September.  So many things in my life have transitioned or begun in the month of September.  Several years back I contemplated why I value September as a season of new beginnings.  I concluded that it was owing to the school schedule that I’d followed for so many years, first as student, then as public school teacher, and more recently as homeschooling mom. This year our family was privileged to join a local celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish New Year, known in the Bible as the Feast of Trumpets.  I was riveted as I heard about the celebration of the birthday of the world, as Jewish tradition calls it.  Though we had studied Jewish feasts a few years back, it was as if I had never heard the traditions and meanings connected with the Old Testament celebration.

I was especially drawn to the tradition of “casting off the sins of the previous year.”  I love the idea of a time of cleansing and starting anew.  It was an epiphany moment for me.  God had planned this season to celebrate new beginnings, which confirmed what my heart has felt for years.

I appreciate my heritage as one “grafted in”, but I also recognize that we are no longer under the law.    When Jesus came to this earth in the form of a man, everything changed.  Through His blood we can “cast off our sins” any day of the year. Praise God we don’t have to wait a whole year to be forgiven!

May this fall be a time of new beginnings for your family—a time to renew your passion for your Father, the Lord and Savior who has bought you with His blood.  And, as the Hebrew greeting says, “May you be inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a good new year.”