Creating New Valentine’s Day Traditions

Valentine’s Day … love it or dread it? As a kid, I honestly dreaded it. Secret admirers, flower special deliveries for fundraisers, and on and on. Love was portrayed in the boyfriend/girlfriend scenario, of which I had neither at the time.

The media takes it further by telling us that love needs to be shown with flowers, diamonds, cars, trips. I admit, I love all of those ideas, but in our family, it’s not practical or necessary.

When I became a mom and my girls were beginning to understand the various holidays, I decided to take a different approach. I wanted them to see that Valentine’s Day was more of a celebration of appreciation and, yes, genuine love. The kind of love that says, I love that you are part of my world, I’m so happy I get to play with you, I love having a library to visit, and so on.

We would have discussions that started with, “What do you love most?” Their answers would range from pets, to trees, to butterflies, to foods. Some years we would get in the car and visit friends and family members close by and deliver cookies or pictures they had drawn or little craft projects—and yes, candy sometimes, because who doesn’t love candy?

I remember one year when my daughter was very young and woke up to a tiny bear holding a chocolate heart for her with a note that said, I love you! She opened her window and shouted, “Thank you, Cupid!” When I asked her why she’d done that she said, “Because Cupid was sharing some love with me.”

One of the lessons from the Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology that still sticks with me is “love-bombing,” which Maria Sirois introduces as a practice to build gratitude. When I was taking the course, my oldest was a freshman in college. I missed her terribly and she missed being home. I began to randomly love-bomb her with texts. She was confused at first, of course. But then she began to look forward to them and eventually love-bombed me back. This continued when my second entered college the following year. It connected us all.

I admit that the lesson got a little jumbled when our twins came 10 years after the girls. When asked recently what Valentine’s Day meant to them, my 11-year-old son responded, “Candy” (insert eye roll). His sister responded much more wisely with, “Crying over wine because you don’t have a boyfriend.” Then she burst out laughing. “Really,” she said, “it’s when Cupid reminds us we have lots of love.” Okay, she’s a little bit closer.

The simplistic views of my children remind me—and maybe you, too—that Valentine’s Day is a great day to share some love and gratitude, and enjoy the boost to your happiness, resilience, and health that come with those positive emotions. Appreciate what or who puts a smile on your face, touches your world, and warms your heart.

Paula Hurd is the Operations Manager at Wholebeing Institute. Through her work supporting students, managing the virtual classroom, building the website, and more, she is the engine that keeps the operational train moving forward. Paula is a graduate of the Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology, and uses the tools she learned on a daily basis. Her most important job is as a mom of four wonderful children. She is passionate about using cooking and sewing to ease stress and relax (and the WBI team eats better because of it!).