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Turn Valentine's Day into a celebration of familial love

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By Deanna Godman

Valentine’s Day has an unusual history in our household. I do not expect flowers or candy, and I generally do not get them. In all the years that my husband and I have been together, I think I have received flowers for Valentine’s Day maybe once. It is not that I do not like getting flowers. I just prefer not to get them at holiday prices.

I go get a box of candy occasionally, but even then my husband gets more brownie points for buying it on sale than he does for bringing it to me on the “correct” day.

Actually, he has not given me flowers at all since we got our cat 10 years ago on Valentine’s weekend. A few months later, when the daffodils were blooming and I was bringing in bouquets to liven up our dining room table, we discovered that she likes to eat flowers. I haven’t received flowers as a gift since.

Some of my favorite Valentine’s memories do not involve romance at all. When I was a little girl, my grandaddy brought me small boxes of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I loved that he took a romantic holiday and turned it into a way to show familial love. Now that he is gone, I treasure the memory even more.

I would like Valentine’s Day to become a show of our family’s love for one another instead of a day to celebrate couples. There is such cultural pressure in our society, even at a young age, to be matched up during Valentine’s Day, and to give over-the-top gifts. I would prefer that my daughter grow up feeling loved by her family rather than feel like she needs a boyfriend to give her flowers in the sixth grade.

Here are a few ideas I have for family traditions to introduce in our family. I hope that my ideas will help you come up with your own.

• Homemade Cards. Nothing is sweeter than getting a homemade card from a child. My daughter likes to draw pictures for her recipients and then I write the captions for her. Sometimes she includes special messages or references the inside jokes she has with loved ones. She and my mother have a whole series of special jokes

• Decorate. Decorating for holidays is always fun for kids. Kids could enjoy dressing in red clothes, and eating only red food on Valentine’s Day. They also might enjoy cutting out hearts to hang up around the house or making heart-shaped ornaments for a special Valentine’s tree. On the ornaments, write things you love about each member of the family.

• Making Homemade Candy. My daughter is 4, so I could not use a recipe involving boiling sugar. She can dip pretzels in melted craft store chocolate. We also learned to make mints at an SOS class taught last spring by Edith Judd and Polly Pennington. It is a play dough consistency and kids can make small edible sculptures with it.

5 cups sifted powdered sugar
8 drops peppermint oil
1/3 cup corn syrup
4 Tablespoons butter
food coloring, if desired
granulated sugar

Mix all ingredients together well. Mixture is very thick. Pinch of small amount, roll in granulated sugar. Press into molds or roll in small balls. If rolled into balls, press fork tongs across the top. Or make free form shapes with the dough and then roll in sugar.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Share your ideas with Deanna at ideas@funmama.net.