Valentine’s Dinner for Six

In the years when my husband and I were dating, Valentine’s Day was all about roses and romantic evenings. After we had children, however, things changed.

It was not just that we were too covered in spit-up or too busy changing diapers, although that can dampen the mood of any lover. No, we discovered that our children wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day, too. Having made special Valentine cards at school, they came home giddy with excitement (the Valentine candy might have had something to do with that, I suppose) and wanting to smother their mummy and daddy with love and affection. We didn’t have the heart to tell them that a babysitter was on the way and we were going out without them. And so a family tradition was born: the Valentine’s party.

Our Valentine’s party is much like a birthday party: there are decorations (in every shade of pink and red), a fancy cake or cupcakes (with heart sprinkles), and take away treats of candy (what is Valentine’s without chocolate?) plus various heart-shaped crafts and home-made confections. Since I can’t resist taking a theme to the next level, we also have ham cut into the shape of hearts and scalloped potatoes with a swirl or two of pink food colouring.

The best part of our Valentine’s celebration, however, is not the food. Because February 14th can occur on any weekday and is not the kind of holiday where we are off from work and school, it gathers us all together for a leisurely meal in the middle of our usual weekly routine. It gives grandparents an excuse for an extra visit. It gives my husband and I excuse for a weekday glass of wine. It gives all of us an excuse to stop everything else and enjoy each other.

Although Valentine’s Day is not traditionally celebrated with small children around a messy table, I have come to love our family’s tradition. Love is so much more than the romance between two people. Love in all its fullness includes friendship and family bonds, laughter and fun, time spent together and expressions of gratitude and care. I am blessed to have a house full of people to love, and people who love me back.

This year it would have been easy to skip the celebration. Our children are past the kindergarten stage and probably wouldn’t mind if my husband and I went out without them. And, since our house is up for sale, we are being forced to take our feast on the road to someone else’s dining room. I, however, am holding fast to our Valentine tradition. And, aside from the opportunity to be together and celebrate love, I am always looking for an excuse to eat a cupcake!

I don’t know how you celebrate Valentine’s day, but whatever you do, may your day be full of love: love that you express, love that you receive, and love that makes our world a happier and more enjoyable place to be. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours.

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