I'm not quite sure how I got started on my Valentine's celebrations, but love is always a good thing to express in tangible ways, so I wanted my kids to learn that. I also wanted to show love to people who might not have a "significant other" to give them romantic love, but they need to feel love, too.
In our house, we have a Valentine's mailbox. These used to be works of art by the combined efforts of my four children. We made them on or near February 1. And we made them BIG! Every year I'd think, "We don't need a box this big," but every year by Valentines we had cards spilling out and piled up beside the box!
What the box needs is to look Valentinsy--red, pink, purple, white, lace, hearts, glitter.
And it needs a mail slot in the top or side.
After the mailbox was made, I set up a "Valentine's Central" on a corner table in the kitchen. I left supplies of construction paper, wrapping paper, glitter, lace, glue, tape, markers and crayons. This was where anyone who had a minute or two would come and make a Valentine for someone else and "mail" it in the mailbox.
I told my children to think of something they love, appreciate, or admire about the person they are making the card for and to tell them in the card. This could be a challenge when it's a brother or sister!
Since I wanted everyone to be sure they got a Valentine from everyone, I made little charts for each child to check off when they had made a Valentine for someone. But...organization has never been high on the list of characteristics of the Fleming children, much to my husband's dismay. (Yes, they get this from their mother.) However, in fairness, I'm happy to say that as they've grown older they have developed this quality...I digress.
Then we decided to include their unmarried teachers from the school for missionary kids that my children attended in Bogota, Colombia. So I sent invitations for a Valentine's dinner. The first or second year, I got a phone call from one of the teachers saying I had invited every unmarried teacher except one, could I include her? Of course! And thus the Fleming's Annual Valentine's Party tradition began.
One stipulation was that every guest also had to make a Valentine for everyone who would be present. It took some doing to get a firm list of who was coming in time for everyone to create their Valentines.
Our guests were the best sports. Some of the Valentines they brought were:
- A poem written especially for each person
- A coveted peanut butter cup (had to be imported!) for each one
- Each person's favorite kind of candy (this took serious research!)
- An origami swan for each one
- A personal note to each person
We very seldom had cheesy kids Valentines. When everyone arrived, they "mailed" their Valentines in the box.
After a meal of as many red or heart shaped things I could think of and before a dessert of something gooey and chocolate, we played "Valentine's Games".
Some of our ideas:
- Starting with one person, they had to sing the line of a song that has the word "love" in it (everyone joins in if they can). Then the next person had to come up with a different song. And the third person still a different song, going around until someone couldn't think of one. There are two ways to continue here--just jump over that person, or have them be "out" and keep going until there's only one person left.
- Have everyone tell their favorite Bible verse that has the word "love" in it.
- Get some to share about their first crush way back when.
- Have a few tell about a time someone made them feel truly loved.
Then we read a version of St. Valentine's story. There are many and I'm not sure which one is true, but they all have reason provoke thought on true love.
Finally, came the moment everyone had been waiting for:
The Opening Of The Valentine's Mailbox!
My kids delighted in passing out the Valentines. At first people seemed pleasantly surprised that they got a Valentine or two. But as the pile grew, we often heard them say,
- "I haven't gotten a Valentine since grade school"
- "Oh, thank you! That's so kind of you to say that!"
- "This is the best Valentine's I've ever had!"
Remember, if we had 15 people, each one got 15 Valentines!
Then came the gooey chocolate dessert (I'll give you a recipe for an easy dessert my family loves on Friday, February 10!)
Everyone, even the "macho" male teachers, took all their Valentines home. One of the teachers would take the box back to her classroom for the whole class to get in on the love.
I have more "in house" ideas for family members to show love to each other that I'll share next Friday, February 3. Don't miss it!