Family / Grief & loss / Life / Parenting

Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day?

Ermont Our daughter goes to a school that’s connected with a Temple, and so it is, both by association and intention, a Jewish school. One of the results being that, in addition to not celebrating the obvious holidays like Christmas, they also don’t celebrate the governmental holidays. Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc. This was one of my very few sadnesses upon enrolling her – silly made-up holidays meant for candy consumption are some of my favorites! I suppose that’s what happens when one is born is such close proximity to Halloween. But I got over it. After all, in exchange for Halloween, we get Purim, which means that her costume will at least get worn twice in a year, and not just once.

Aside from which, we can celebrate these holidays with her outside of school, and we do. We got her a costume, and took her trick-or-treating, and a fabulous time was had by all.

But, as I drove her to school this morning, I was thinking about Valentine’s Day, and whether it’s worth celebrating that one with her outside of school.

I confess that I think I liked it more as a child than as an adult. I’ve never been one for that kind of schmoopy sentimentality between adults, and (whether I succeed or not) I do try my best to show my wife that she is loved and appreciated year-round, whether I’ve gotten her a card and chocolates or not. But as a child, I loved getting a seemingly random basket of gifts from my mother; treats that I didn’t otherwise have, and a movie or a toy or something that showed she was paying attention to me and the things I liked, and thought of me when she picked them up.

I have a hard time trying to think about denying n that.

But as I drove her to school and she was asking me about the sparkly valentine’s day card she got from J’s boss, I wondered if it wasn’t such a bad idea. I mean, we preach about showing love 365 days a year, but what if we showed it, and spurned the consumer-driven tradition? Would it be harmful? In those years of public school when they’ll inevitably be exchanging cards with cartoon characters on them? What about down the road – could it be helpful? Though I was never one of them, I certainly had more than my fair share of friends who had miserable Februaries, fretting over not being in a relationship, or not having a date for Valentine’s day. Could it help her realize that she doesn’t need cards and chocolate and flowers to know that she’s loved and valued? To realize that just because somebody gives her those things doesn’t mean they love and value her?


I have no idea. And honestly, I’m not sure what we’ll do. Or even if, what we do this year is what we’ll continue to do.

What does your family do for Valentine’s Day?

Featured image: “Valentine,” Used with permission, from Dave Parker’s Flickr stream.

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  1. We carry on a tradition started by my family. My dad always bought my sister and I something for Valentine’s day. It was the one holiday a year that my mom had nothing to do with. My dad would pick out the present and the card all by himself. Such an important lesson for little girls. My husband now gets our daughter Valentine’s present & card and I get our two sons presents & cards. It kind of makes it my favorite holiday.

  2. I begrudgingly buy those cheap Valentine’s cards so that our kids can participate in the class card exchange. There is usually a little party with crafts and treats, and EVERYONE participates in the card exchange. My neighbor shames me with her handmade, crafty Valentines that score just as many points with the kids as the other cards do but bonus points for the parents. I run out and get some chocolates and cards for the boys, too. They appreciate it more than I resent the pressure and commercialism.

    And also, I send flowers to Gabriella at work every year because I love her…and also because invariably, she comes home with news that a straight, female coworker admired her Valentine’s Day flowers and said, “Could you call my husband and tell him how it’s done?” Lesbian points!!

  3. Technically, both Halloween and Valentine’s Day have explicitly Christian origins (Halloween is a part of the Christian calendar, celebrating the eve of All Saint’s Day. Valentine was a saint and the day is his feast day, though I think he’s one of those fake saints based on a pre-Christian god, like Bridget.)
    So it’s kind of nice that the Jewish school doesn’t celebrate them. I find it irritating how much creeping-into-the-mainstream Christianity does.

  4. My six-year-old told me one of his classmates was buying MadLibs valentines for the boys in class and Hello Kitty valentines for the girls. I said, “Huh, I wonder why boys and girls need different valentines?” He said, “Welcome to my world, Mom.”

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