I’m the kind of girl who loves traditions. If it was fun the first time, then it’s got to be even more fun the second time! Our very first Valentine’s Day together, Jeremiah and I drove to Minnesota and skied for the entire day. Our lunch and supper consisted of beef jerky, PB cheese crackers, and fun-sized Snickers. It became a ‘thing’ and we got to take that trip a couple more times before we started having babies.
Depending on the season we’ve found ourselves in over the years, we’ve gone out or stayed home on Valentine’s Day. This year we had plans. Even reservations. And then sickness decided to linger a little longer and we deemed it wise and necessary to cancel. It was pretty disappointing. I had five days to do one of two things - sit and sulk or make the most of it.
I decided to go with the latter.
Even though Jeremiah and I still weren’t feeling well, I decided that we could create a memory regardless. I told the children that we were going to throw Daddy a surprise Valentine’s Day Party. They couldn’t wait! Supper was going to be hot, simple, and delicious: lasagna, bread sticks, and salad. Dessert was going to be one of his favorites: chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Valentine’s Day rolled around and by 7AM Lydia and I were busy making cookie batter for heart cut-outs. We spent the majority of the morning cleaning the house and decorating with what I could find in the cupboards, closets, and basement. Not feeling energetic enough to leave the house for any last-minute ingredients or decorations challenged me to be creative and frugal (two things I have a knack for). Wide-mouth Mason jars, glass beads, and votive candles can go a long way!
I had the children make Valentine’s cards for their Daddy while I decorated the kitchen table with more glass beads and candles - two of them being red tapers that went into crystal candlestick holders (gifts from our wedding).
I let each of the children take turns rolling out a ball of dough and decorating their heart cut-out cookies before naps.
After naps - while the lasagna was still in the oven - there was a nervous-excitement upstairs as the children and I were changing into “Date Clothes.” The boys got all handsome and slicked their hair back with gel. I put Titus in a blazer and he couldn’t have looked any cuter. Lydia wore her fanciest dress that called for black tights and Mary Janes. I put on a silk cocktail dress that had a splash of red in it and completed the outfit with hose and heels.
When my husband arrived home the house was decorated, the table set, the candles lit, the food ready to come out of the oven, and Pandora was playing Smooth Jazz in the Living Room.
The plan was for the boys to answer the door and escort their Daddy to the living room where they would sit him down in the chair and give him a foot-massage before supper. He came into the house bearing gifts: flowers for his girls and chocolates for all. Watching Lydia receive a real flower from her Daddy was priceless.
After the foot-massage, the children handed Jeremiah their Valentine’s cards while I took the lasagna out of the oven.
Before we ate, the children wanted to see us dance. My husband obliged and I felt all of the butterflies when he held me in his arms as the music played. I giggled when we caught them whispering and staring at us.
Supper was everything I had hoped it would be: hot, simple, and delicious. We ate by candlelight and used it as a teaching moment for our loud, energetic children to turn their volume down just a little more to hear the music that was coming from the living room. Watching them truly enjoy themselves eating breadsticks and drinking Sparkling Grape Juice out of stemware was entertaining to say the least.
Instead of a Table for Two, we were a Party of Six. And it was perfect.
After supper, there was more dancing and I caught a glimpse of what it might be like when my boys are 12, 16, and 18 and asking us how to dance with a girl and where to put their hands.
We’ve all heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The sickness that had cancelled our plans in the first place was the recipe for the very night our little family needed. A chance to be together - again. Creating a memory. Keeping our joy.
Since then, Nathan has requested that I wear that dress more often and Lydia likes to randomly shut off all the lights at suppertime.
When life pushes you up against tough decisions and disappointment - push back. Not in anger or frustration, but with a determination to not let your joy be robbed. Go ahead and make some lemonade!
I’ve decided that wherever we end up next year on Valentine’s Day: skiing or dancing, eating beef jerky or lasagna, a table for two or a party of six, my heart is going to be full from all of the love.