El Dia del Amor

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I guess I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day. I know a lot of people think it’s just a Hallmark holiday, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a reminder that you should tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. I know, I know, you can do that any day, but do you?

Plus, Valentine’s Day is just a cool holiday for kids. You get to cut out red paper hearts, pass out Valentines and eat chocolate. Who doesn’t like that!?

One of my favorite memories as a kid is actually Valentine’s Day-related. I think I was in second grade when I opened my lunch box to find a box of conversation hearts that my mom had snuck in. I was shocked and so surprised. It meant the world to me, especially because it was so unexpected. My mom has never really been one to buy into these small-ish/commercial holidays — she grew up in a family of 9 kids, so there was no such thing as Valentine’s Day presents or St. Nick. You got what you got on a daily basis and you were lucky to have it.

But she made a special effort to surprise me and that’s why it’s still one of my favorite memories.

I also remember the school librarian reading A Sweetheart for Valentine to us every year. I loved that book. When it was already checked out of the school library I would check it out at the public library so that my mom could read it to us too. I think it made such a big impression on me because the author, Lorna Balian, lived in our town and we would drive by her house a couple of times every week. When I was pregnant with Monkey, I even bought my own copy to read her. It’s so nostalgic to read a book to your child that had significant meaning to you when you were little.

My husband and I have never really done elaborate Valentine’s Day gifts. For us, it’s really more about the thought and effort.

In fact, over the years I’ve repeatedly told him NOT to buy me flowers on Valentine’s Day — especially roses —because they’re so grossly overpriced and everyone’s getting them. I actually like tulips better (did you know the stems continue growing after you cut them?).

This year especially I really didn’t want to spend any money. Our upcoming vacation has basically been our “gift” to one another for every conceivable gift-giving holiday, including Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and our anniversary. Plus, we had a nice date-night dinner out.

My plan was to give him a bag of chocolate, make him some cookies and call it a day. And then last night I got just a tiny bit creative.

I forgot that I had a $2 Amazon MPR credit that had to be used by midnight tonight. Amazon is doing a promotion where you can send your friends or loved ones a song — for free! (well, up to $2). While searching around trying to decide what songs I should download for Husband, I also discovered that Amazon has a free Valentine’s Day playlist. Sweet! I downloaded it, thinking who doesn’t like free music, right? And I actually found a couple of gems. And then, my idea hatched. I made him a Valentine’s Day mixed CD. So high school, right!?? I know. But cute.

I also had been toying with the idea of writing “Happy Valentine’s Day” on the bathroom mirror with some red lipstick, but that just seemed like way too much work to clean up. So I grabbed some of Monkey’s red construction paper and cut out some hearts for my message. Much easier.

I cut out a couple smaller hearts for the girls, taped chocolate hearts on them, and then taped them to the back of their bedroom doors.

It was so funny this morning when Monkey discovered what was on her door.

“MAMA, Look! There’s a balentine on my door!”

While the bathroom message was intended for Husband, I knew that Monkey would get a big kick out of it as well, and she didn’t disappoint.

Upon entering the bathroom she screamed, “MAMA! LOOK! There are balentines on the MIRROR, TOO!!”

Oh man. She was so excited. I wish I had videotaped it. Later she told me, “Mama, those balentines on the mirror are silly. But I still like them.”

So whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day, or if you think it’s just a load of crap, I hope you feel loved today and every day. Oh, and go get some free music!

Do you have any favorite Valentine’s Day memories, either as a kid or an adult?

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