By Sharla Orren
Until recently, I really disliked Valentine’s Day. It just seemed so unimaginative. Everyone was buying chocolate or flowers for that “special” someone on February 14. But I felt if my husband wanted to give me something, he should do it on another day besides Valentine’s Day. I did not want him to give me something only because that is what everyone else was doing. It also seemed like another way for stores to make money. I felt like Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Valentine’s Day was too commercial! For many reasons, Valentine’s Day was not a holiday that I enjoyed.
Then I discovered the story of Valentine’s Day and it made the holiday more meaningful for me.
Around AD 269, Rome was ruled by a very evil emperor named Claudius II. Claudius became mad because his men did not want to fight against the enemies invading Rome. They wanted to stay with their wives and children. Claudius decided to make a law that no one could marry so that men would want to be soldiers instead.
Valentinus, also known as St. Valentine, believed this was a horrible law. He knew that people should be allowed to be married. He decided that he would continue to perform marriages, but in secret. Claudius found out and told Valentinus to stop performing marriages and also to stop being a Christian. He demanded that Valentinus worship the Roman gods. Valentinus knew that there was only one God and he refused to do either of the things that Claudius had demanded. Valentinus was then thrown in jail and persecuted.*
We decided that instead of buying gifts for each other, we would use this day to bless others and to enjoy doing things as a family. Here is how we spend Valentine’s Day now.
Start the day with a heart-shaped breakfast.
We make heart-shaped breakfast foods, such as pancakes and donuts. This year my son thought it would be fun to make heart-shaped waffles. We made the waffles with our waffle maker and then cut them into heart shapes. Since my children cannot have artificial dye, we have to be creative when having pink or red foods. We decided to crush up freeze- dried strawberries and add them to our waffle batter. This gave our waffles a pink tint. You can serve them with whipped cream, powdered sugar, and fun-colored fruit syrup. Have fun decorating your waffles—or whatever you choose to serve!
Make homemade Valentine cards for all the “Senior Singles” at your church.
We have over 30 “senior singles” at our church. They are either widowed or have never been married. We like to use this day to bless them by making homemade Valentine cards. We do something different each year when we make these. It usually consists of making paper hearts and decorating them with stickers and markers. We write a short personalized message on the cards. This not only blesses the seniors, but also my children as well. It helps my children build personal relationships with the older people at church.
Make and deliver Valentine cards to the nursing home.
We also enjoy helping groups in our area to make and deliver Valentine cards to the nursing home residents. It is really nice to get to visit with these wonderful people.
Have a heart-shaped supper and eat it by candlelight.
We have fun with our supper. It is fun to be creative and think of different foods that can be heart shaped. My husband’s favorite meal is chicken parmesan. We used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the breaded chicken into the shape of a heart and served it with spaghetti and meat sauce. We also cut the rolls into hearts. The kids love turning off all the lights and eating by candlelight. They said it makes them feel like we are eating in a fancy restaurant.
Make a fun dessert.
We don’t usually make dessert for supper, so it is a special treat to make one for Valentine’s Day. One of my favorite desserts that I have made is:
Easy Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
- 2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
- 1 chocolate cookie crust
PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until blended then add eggs; mix until blended. Add 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips. Pour mix into crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chips. BAKE for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Keep leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator.
Watch a Valentine-themed TV program.
After supper we relax together and watch a Valentine-themed TV program. We usually make popcorn and hot chocolate to enjoy while we watch. Our favorite Valentine program is “A Charlie Brown Valentine”
I now get more excited when February comes around. I know we don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way as everyone else. We can bless others and spend time together discovering the real meaning of Valentine’s Day.
* If you would like to read more about the story of St. Valentine to your children, I recommend The Story of Saint Valentine by The Voice of the Martyrs.
Sharla Orren loves homeschooling her two boys at her cozy homestead by the woods. She has been married to her wonderful husband for fifteen years. You can find her blogging at www.lookatwhatyouareseeing.com.