Before we were married, I didn’t like Valentine’s Day all that much. It seemed like such a romantic thing, but if I didn’t have a date, I felt like I missed out. But then as a waitress I would watch couples come in, sit quietly, then look at anything except the person they came with. They wouldn’t talk to each other. They’d just sit there eating an expensive meal so they could say they’d been out for Valentine’s. What was the point?
When we got married, I was excited to go on our first Valentine’s date as a couple. I have to admit now, 15 years later, that I can’t remember what we did. I do remember, though, a feeling of that’s it? when we got home. Why was going out to dinner supposed to be such a big deal on Valentine’s Day? Isn’t there more to it than that?
Time went on and our children became avid fans of Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey series. I heard a story of a Roman priest named Valentine from a cassette tape in our van. He married young men and women, uniting them in holy matrimony even though the ruler of the country had forbidden marriage. He was jailed for disobeying and was sentenced to death. While he was in prison he became friends with the jailer’s blind daughter. After he prayed for her, she received her sight. They fell in love, but it was not to be. On the day of his execution, he left her a note and signed it Your Valentine. Isn’t that beautiful?
Valentine’s Day is not a holiday set out by God in Scripture. However, it can be a meaningful way to give value to things God has established and called into being. Things like marriage, parent-child relationships, friendships, and even the relationship Jesus has with the church, His bride.
A few years ago we decided as a family that we wanted to establish a family tradition for Valentine’s Day. As our girls grow up, we never want them to feel that just because some boy didn’t ask them on a date that they are somehow second rate. Neither do we want our boys to feel pressured into taking out a girl just because it’s the thing to do. We also want to have a home where anyone can feel comfortable coming on Valentine’s Day if they don’t have a date.
We talked it up and planned it well. After deciding that a fondue night would be our tradition, we set to making the shopping list. Lots of chocolate, fresh fruit (strawberries, bananas, apples and mandarins), sponge cake, almonds, and cheese (yes, it’s delicious dipped in warm chocolate!) were on the menu. We were not going to have supper, this was the meal deal of the day.
The kids wrote notes to each other and made coupons for chores and favors for each other. We wanted them to know that we can express our love to each other, but it doesn’t have to cost anything.
The day finally came. We all got dressed nicely (the boys put on deodorant and the girls put on skirts… nicely means different things to different people). We sat around for hours dipping food items into chocolate and talking. We told each other what we love about each other. My husband and I retold both versions of how we met and he proposed (his version and my version). We laughed. We connected. We had the best Valentine’s Day ever.
Just before this last Christmas we were sitting at the table eating dinner when one of the kids asked, “When are we going to do that ‘fundoo thingy’ again? Isn’t that soon?” Disappointment set in when he realized it would still be a wait.
Every year we wait for Valentine’s Day. It’s become a time for us to love each other with our time, our words and our service.
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