If there’s an excuse to celebrate in the middle of winter, I have decided to take it. There have been many years when we haven’t gone out of our way to celebrate Valentine’s. It comes smack in the middle of tax season, and to be honest, in our newlywed years I probably had unrealistic expectations of my husband that caused more harm than good.
Perhaps Valentine’s comes with some inner struggle for you, and if so, I’d suggest reading Susie Davis’ post about it. It’s one I re-read every year, because somehow I can still get caught up in the hype of the next two weeks. Her advice and attitude is so helpful and gentle.
So, I’ve lowered my expectations from the consumeristic love day with giant gestures. But I still want to celebrate the love I feel for my family, my husband, and even just having a day to generally celebrate being a woman and feeling a little girly.
Here are a few simple ideas…
1 // Celebrating your family and children. Growing up, this is how I remember Valentine’s Day. We lived in the country, so a sought-after dinner reservation wasn’t happening. My dad was also in the middle of a busy season at work. My mom would make a beautiful dinner, and we would all dress up in fancy clothes. When my dad got home, we would have a candlelit dinner in the dining room, instead of our usual kitchen table. Even now I can remember the special-ness and excitement.
So, here’s what I’m picturing for my family. I’ll make zuppa toscana, but serve it in my grandma’s china. Once the soup is simmering, I’ll bake a heart-shaped chocolate cake. Then the kids and I can have fun picking fancy dress up clothes and setting the table with pink candles.
2 // Celebrating your marriage. Zach and I have been married for ten years, and we have varied from ignoring Valentine’s altogether, to grocery date nights where we go pick out treats and watching The Office together. Here’s the thing. Our season of life is a lot of work. From parenting, to managing family expectations, to growing work responsibilities, there are a lot of distractions from our marriage. If there is a day set aside to remember love, I think that’s a good thing. What I’ve messed up in the past, is putting all the responsibility for the day on him and expecting he will read my mind of how to be romantic (ditto for anniversaries).
Since I know Zach is swamped at work, I’ve just decided to take charge and celebrate us by managing the planning. There are times to set aside your own (or cultural) expectations, and for us, this is one. We can both end up having a special day, instead of both feeling frustrated. Please know, this doesn’t have to involve any money. Think of your spouse’s love language and be sure to speak their language. And I’ve learned that sometimes it helps to try to hit multiple love languages and to get creative. (Just as a reminder, the love languages are…words of encouragement, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts. More about them in this book.) So you could slip a love note in his wallet, clean up his side of the closet, and be extra affectionate. If you need a few gift ideas, here are some fun ones… body oil, amber moss candle, and a pretty bralette.
PS: Guys, if you’re looking for a gift for your wife….THIS.
3 // Celebrate being a woman. In a world where women are maligned, degraded, and diminished, I’m ok with taking February 14th to savor pink and sweets and girlfriends. If you can manage it, plan a Galentine’s party to be together and drink some champagne! But, even if that’s not working out this year, treat yourself to some Trader Joe’s X + O gummies and roses, a good book, and chill in the bath with Glossier’s moon mask.
And one more tip. If you know you are prone to jealousy or discontentment, maybe stay off social media and instead soak in the gifts and love you are given on that day. I know that can be helpful for me sometimes.
Here’s to celebrating the love in the world, friends!
What are you dreaming, planning, and hoping for on February 14th?