I used to hate Valentine’s Day, but that was when I regarded it as a strictly romantic holiday. It always carried some ornery pressure with it -expectations aren’t always wonderful things, am I right? I hated the red and pink grocery aisles filled with commercialization, the overpriced flowers, the songs (ugh, the songs).

But a few years ago, I quit focusing on THAT.

I took a step back from The Calendar Year and began to see a pretty sort of flow through the holidays.

Halloween reminded me of darkness, death. It brought about in me a reminder of the hard times, the valleys of life.
Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, and it seems like I begin to pull out of the valleys by practicing gratitude while in the pits.
Christmas rolls around, and there we find HOPE. Hope always follows gratitude, doesn’t it? Hope for a better tomorrow.
New Year’s springs forth and I feel the darkness losing. I feel a fresh start. Fresh Starts often follow hope.
Valentine’s Day is all about LOVE. It isn’t about exclusive couple relationships, not really. It’s about my neighbor. It’s about the love I exhibit and exude as I cultivate love within. I often find love carries a trail behind it that goes something like: fresh start, hope, gratitude, trial.
Valentine’s is followed by Easter. Isn’t that great? Easter! Rebirth! Redemption! Surely, this follows love. When I love myself, I find rebirth in so many areas. Surely when we love ourselves and others, we lay down our lives. We find personal crucifixions within. Our trial taught us what we WANT to live without -pride, fear, hate, vicitimization, control -and we crucify that part of ourselves, offering it to God. Take it, for I had no need of it. What need have I of fear when I’m filled with love and hope and gratitude?
What follows Easter? Independence Day.
Freedom. Sweet freedom.

And so came I to believe in Valentine’s Day. It holds a very sacred place in my heart, and I celebrate it with everyone I love.

Our family carves that night out as “ours.” We eat a truly wonderful meal together -we decorate and use the fancy cups. I invest CASH into the food, and we let our family know that we are worth FANCY.

But in 2014…

I had spent more than I’d ever spent (and we all know what a low roller I am). I’d purchased new fancy cups (glass!) and matching napkins. There was sparkling cider and SALMON. It was a beautifully set table, candles and all. I put on a dress.
And then Alice screamed through the entire meal, the older two fought and Danny took a phone call for a long, long time.

I washed my hands of the feast.
“Next year,” I vowed, “There will be no feast.”
Danny laughed it off. He thought I’d get over it and make a feast in the end.
Well, I’m always up for a good challenge. And last year, Danny took us all out to Red Lobster and proclaimed it The Valentine’s Feast. I suggested we make a tradition of Mom and Dad trading years.

Because of health issues, I haven’t been able to do as much as I’d like. What I’d like is to cut hearts out of vintage sheet music and sew them together and drape my house with them. I’d love to hang crochet hearts everywhere and spruce up the place in reds and pinks and fresh lilacs. I’d love to have dishes of candy hearts set out for everyone to enjoy.
But mostly my days are spent in survival mode, both for health reasons and “mothering a toddler” reasons.
And it’s still good, it’s really good.

I signed up to do the Valentine’s Party for Lacy’s class, and it will be simple and enjoyable. I need to plan it since there’s exactly one month left. I’m excited about it, even though I’m no party-planner. I think Lacy and I will have fun putting it together.

Today I’m thinking a few things:
1) What should we eat at our feast? Turkey? Homemade crab legs and lobster tail?
2) What should the third grade party look like?
3) I can’t wait to design this year’s Valentine’s… which I’m much better about sending out than Christmas Cards.
4) I hope everyone celebrates love in their own way.
5) Someone called Valentine’s Day a stupid holiday today and it made me write.
6) On a completely unrelated note: our family has been battling various sicknesses since mid-December and there’s no end in sight, and I’m stuck between wanting to feel sorry for myself and wanting to celebrate because we are cut off from civilization, and there’s something incredibly adventurous about that.
7) I’m sad about Snape dying. I hate it when talent leaves us. There’s no replacement for him. It reminds me that there’s no replacement for me either and that I need to celebrate the talent in me. ¬†Even if there’s no big screen for the world to see it, God sees it. And the same goes for my family and my friends and you.
8) Today, I will take a nap.

From last year’s Valentine’s Feast:





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