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Celebrate Family Day

February 15, 2012

I decided to rethink Valentine’s Day this year.  Normally, it is a holiday I don’t care much for.  It seems to be overblown and a waterfall of consumerism.  Plus, I am not necessarily the most romantic or sentimental person.

However, in case you haven’t learned this yet, kids change everything.  Madeleine once again wanted to make Valentine’s for her 19 classmates, teacher, and student teacher.  John knew exactly what valentine cards from the store he wanted.  Isaac didn’t know what he was getting into, but was along for the ride.

It started right as February did.  That first weekend of February, Madeleine intently made Valentine pictures for all of us in the family.  She even got John and Isaac to make some pictures (John’s participation was no small feat either).  She sealed them up in envelopes, wrote our names on them, and stashed them on the coat hooks across from the coat closet.

It continued last week.  I made a couple of trips to Michael’s and bought supplies.  As she was stuck at home, inside recovering from strep and a double ear infection, she made cards for each classmate.  She thought of each classmate as she made them, what they may like.  She was careful not to give boys pink cards, except for Valdemar because his favorite color was purple.  John carefully wrote his name on the back of his car cards and he decided which friends would like which cards–the girls mostly got the purple Holly Shiftwell cards.  Isaac just carried his sheets of Veggie Tale cards around with him.

Finally, Valentine’s Day came.  By this time, I had decided the name “Valentine’s Day” didn’t mirror the sentiment in our house.  This was clearly a day to celebrate our family–each individual and the collective group for the gifts we all bring.  In my head, I renamed it Celebrate Family Day.

When you rename something, it’s easier to get behind it.  My enthusiasm for the holiday grew and I thought of ways I could please my family.  This wasn’t some cheesy red lovey holiday. Celebrate Family Day was a multi-colored energetic, love each other even when it gets rough sort of day.  I planned the meal for the evening, thinking of each member and what they might love.  Online I found a little “10 Things I Love About You” print out that I made for each person.  I found Curtis a card.  I made sugar cookies in the shape of hearts with white and red icing on them to give to the kids’ teachers at school.

I woke up on Celebrate Family Day to find a dozen roses sitting on the table for me and a lovely card.  Isaac woke up with me.  Once he realized it was Valentine’s Day, he traipsed through the house, waking everyone else up, informing them it was Valentine’s Day.  The kids all ripped into their cards, especially made for them by Madeleine, John, an Isaac.  I was delighted to find that my picture was one of a sea turtle laying eggs.  On Celebrate Family Day, that fits exactly!!  The weekend Madeleine made the pictures, we had watched a documentary on the Loggerhead Sea Turtles amazing journeys through the Atlantic and Caribbean.  I loved it, probably more than Madeleine did.  She figured out a picture to draw of something I loved.

I made Madeleine’s lunch and snuck in a white and red iced heart shaped cookie.  Madeleine went to school loaded with her homemade Valentines and treats for teachers.  I went to grocery shopping with the boys to get dinner ingredients.  At lunch, we went to the boys’ preschool for John’s class party.  I watched John carefully guide Isaac through the activities and put his arm around Isaac as a teacher read a book about love.

What a day.  We ended with dinner–a seafood stew complete with mussels, a favorite of John and Madeleine, mostly because the shell was so fun to play with, fennel and celery salad, a favorite of Curtis and mine, and hot fudge pudding cake with ice cream for dessert, a favorite or absolutely every ones.

With a family and small children, celebrating Valentine’s Day as just a romantic holiday for just Curtis and I doesn’t cut it.  It leaves me ending up feeling frustrated and disappointed.  However, with how we celebrated yesterday, I went to bed feeling all warm and happy inside because we celebrated our family.  We didn’t buy any new stuff (with the exception of the flowers) and instead made things for each other that we thought they would like.  It seems like the perfect way to celebrate our inaugural Celebrate Family Day.

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