Sharing love and community on Valentine’s Day How a holiday became a beloved and treasured family tradition

Tradition is important for our family and Valentine’s Day is one of our favourite celebrations. It wasn’t always that way, and it’s taken work to get there.

Our Valentine’s Day celebration started because I didn’t feel like I got attention from my husband on that day. It seemed paradoxical to point out that I would appreciate some romantic love on Valentine’s Day; I just thought it was a holiday he didn’t want to celebrate. I actually think Valentine’s Day became a nice family celebration because I was married to a gay man, although I didn’t know it at the time.

So when my children were young, I re-focused my attention by making Valentine’s cards and having a special breakfast with them. We would have heart-shaped pancakes, whipped cream, and strawberries. We made placemats, decorated them, and kept them every year, adding new stickers the following year.

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Valentine’s Day started out as a simple tradition of sharing my love with my children and in doing so, my ex-husband would participate. Romance was not the basis of my relationship with him and Valentine’s Day was not a day to celebrate between us. In retrospect, I thought celebrating with the children would take away the pressure of sharing (or not sharing) a romantic event with my ex-husband.

Since then, I have moved on. My ex-husband and I have been divorced for many years and I’m now in a long-term relationship. Due to my experience with the holiday, I didn’t have any expectations when I started a new relationship, but I was pleasantly surprised. Every year on Valentine’s Day, he has let me know I am special.

My adult children and I still celebrate Valentine’s Day, sharing a brunch every year. It’s become one of our favourite family traditions. We have invited other friends and couples to join us at times, particularly new families looking  to develop a Valentine’s tradition. If a new person joins us, they are invited to make a placemat. The placemats, both new and old, now get put on the wall for all to enjoy. It has been an opportunity to reconnect, share our love, and enjoy a good meal. The meal has become more elaborate; we now include two small chocolate fountains, one at each end of a nicely decorated table. The table is filled with breakfast foods, fruit, and cheeses, all great for dipping in chocolate. I cannot believe how good sausage and bacon dipped in chocolate tastes!

I am lucky. I have family, grandchildren, and friends with whom to share this special day. For the past two years, I have made Valentine’s cards for my grandsons. They now have their own placemats for the wall. I am still friends with my ex-husband, and traditions, family, and friends are important to me in building community.  

Whether you have a romantic partner, children, family or friends, take the opportunity to wish them a happy Valentine’s Day. It will make their day.

Featured Image: Over the years, the brunch has become more elaborate.  | Tamie Perryment

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