This time of year, if you happen to take a walk through a Target, you may feel an overwhelming urge to purchase seasonal cupcake liners, a heart-shaped throw pillow, a spatula adorned with cupids and a bag of individually wrapped dark chocolate hearts to supplement the five necessities on your shopping list.
Valentine’s Day, just like any holiday, is always accompanied by a good dose of commercialism. But it can be kind of fun, too!
It’s one of my favorite holidays. In my world, as a kindergarten teacher, throughout the month of February there are red, pink and white hearts everywhere! With so many fun craft activities and themes that can accompany learning, it’s easy to embrace the holiday.
And then, of course, there’s a party, inviting everyone in the class to be included in an exchange of cards promoting kindness, fun and clever greetings, plus a good dose of sweetness in the form of sugary treats. Paper cards that express friendship and love with a dusting of glitter and a piece of chocolate attached — that’s what the day is all about right?
This excitement and, most notably, this inclusiveness tends to fade when class Valentine’s Day parties end, typically in about fifth and or sixth grade. Older kids eventually start experiencing an influx of hormones and first crushes as well as feelings of acceptance and/or isolation that continue into adulthood.
It’s kind of sad if you really start to think about it. But does it really have to be this way?
What if we all chose to approach this Valentine’s Day with an intention of inclusiveness and kindness, just like early elementary school kids? What if we took this simple idea and spread it beyond the walls of primary school classrooms? It’s certainly possible!
I challenge you and your family to approach this month of February with an intention to extend some Valentine’s Day love and kindness a little wider than you have before. Here are eight simple ideas:
- Send cards to members of your extended family. Make your own or buy a bulk box and bring V-day cheer to grandmas and grandpas, cousins, aunts, uncles and beyond.
- Bake and share. Buy those heart-adorned cupcake liners or red, pink and white sprinkles and make a batch of cupcakes or cookies to share with your neighbor.
- Create a package of signed Valentines and deliver them to a nearby assisted-living facility, nursing home or shelter.
- Think of school staff when your kids are preparing cards: How about giving Valentine’s to the school’s nurse, librarian, secretaries, janitors, gym teachers, music teachers, cooks and recess staff?
- Celebrate as a family with something fun. Pick up a Papa Murphy’s take-and-bake heart-shaped pizza for dinner. Go around the dinner table and have each member of your family share something they LOVE about your family.
- Like and comment. We all feel good when others respond positively to our social media posts. Make a point to like, heart or comment on a friend’s or relative’s post. Acknowledge them by sending them virtual love and kindness.
- Make a care package for your childcare provider.
- Post-It: Get a stack of Post-Its and write kind and loving messages on them with your kids. Then go out and spread them around in public places where people will come across them — public bathroom mirrors, in the pages of library books, on a grocery cart or even just around your home. This simple activity has big potential to lift spirits and maybe even brighten the world.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Megan Devine lives with her husband and four school-age children in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her blog — Kids, Lakes, Loons and Pines — at megdevine.com.