by Jill Hazel
By now, you probably know how much I love traditions. Meaning-filled traditions, to me, are happy and cozy. In a world filled with change and unknowns, traditions are grounding—they feel familiar, secure, and anchor my soul.
Holidays easily lend themselves to traditions. They are just kind of expected. On Thanksgiving, we gather with friends and family, eat turkey, and share what we are thankful for. On the Fourth of July, we have picnics and stay up late to watch fireworks. Valentine’s Day is more traditionally a romantic day for couples. Or for kids to exchange paper hearts and eat candy at school. Years ago, we wanted to make it a little more than that for our family. We didn’t just want to celebrate romantic love (though we are greatly in favor of that!). Nor did we want it to be a day that we “outgrew” after elementary school and let lie dormant for year until there was a budding romance. If love is the focal point of Valentine’s Day, then let’s celebrate love! Love in its various stages and expressions.
Humans are the only part of God’s creation that express love. That is because God is love, and we are created in His image. Love is a reflection of God Himself. Because of the complexity and vastness of the character of God, love is also multi-dimensional. Love is much, much more than what we’ve boiled it down to in Hallmark movies (though we like those too!). Each person, possessing a bit of God’s image, understands and feels loved in different ways. Enter…one of my favorite books: The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. If you have not read this book, please get a copy and read it. It just may revolutionize your life and your relationships! Gary talks about love being expressed through acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, & physical touch. That’s all I’m going to say about the book, because this isn’t meant to be a book report. But that is the foundation for what became our Hazel Family Valentine’s Day tradition several years ago. In our family, each year, each member of the family came up with a way to express love to each of the other members by giving gifts for each of the five love languages.
Acts of Service – We give each other gifts of helping each other. For instance, one year I gave our daughter a weekend free of her chores, and I did them for her. She cleaned out her dad’s car. One evening, my husband drew up a nice candlelit bath for me and took over kitchen duties. Words of Affirmation – My husband is the champion when it comes to giving words of affirmation. This is his primary love language. He easily and generously speaks words that build each of us up. On the other hand, it is also the love language where I am the weakest. I did not grow up in a household that often said, “I love you.” Nor did we tell each other when or how he or she was doing well. However, I know the damage that is done by holding back those words. So, in my household, I try to practice telling my family what they mean to me daily. On Valentine’s Day, not only do we tell each other, but we write a note to each other, affirming each other’s character, growth, and accomplishments.
Quality Time – Time spent together is a meaningful expression of love. Again, this is time spent doing something together, not just being in the same room. Some ideas are playing a game, taking a walk, talking, going out for coffee. With younger children, it may be taking time to read to them, have hot cocoa together, build a snowman, play dress up, or build a fort (and eat a snack in there together!). The key here is doing something that is meaningful to the other person and doing it together.
Gifts – For us, because our daughter’s birthday is one week before Valentine’s Day and mine is one week following, we try to keep Valentine’s Day gifts inexpensive. Generally, we limit the gift amount to $10 or less per person. That makes it doable for us. I imagine $10, or even $5, or less would probably be good for large families too. You can always give handmade gifts too. Physical Touch – Depending on your relationship with the person and the level of appropriateness toward the one you are gifting, physical touch could a hug, a pat on the back, a high five, a back rub or foot rub, or snuggling together under a blanket while watching a movie.
Maybe you would like to start a Valentine’s Day tradition giving the five love languages.
1. Click on the link photo to open the PDF
2. Print PDF on cardstock
3. Cut out and fill in each coupon with what is appropriate and meaningful for the person you are gifting
Have a happy Valentine’s Day!