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Guest post by Abby Winstead Wandering
Valentine’s Day is a polarizing holiday. On one side, you have Team “every day should be a celebration of love.” Those people argue that February 14, is a “Hallmark holiday”, a day manufactured by greeting card companies and chocolate makers to boost sales. They say that, if you really love someone, you’ll spend all 365 days each year showing it.
On the other side, you have Team “Valentine’s Day is a day for you to lavish me with all the presents I didn’t get at Christmas”. That team asserts that… well, I’m not sure what their reasoning is.
I fall somewhere in the middle. In no way do I think V-Day should consist only of the obligatory exchange of gifts. I also don’t think it’s necessary to skip the day altogether. I think that, like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day should serve as a reminder to treasure the things and people we should be grateful for every day.
For those of us who want to find a way to our love to the special people in our lives without breaking the bank or giving into the commercialization of the holiday, I have 5 ideas to help you out!
1. Write a love letter.
There are a hundred little things about my husband that I’m thankful for each day. From his patience with the kids during bath time to his enviable laundry skills, I’m constantly reminded of why I love him.
While we both say “I love you” on a daily basis, we rarely expound on the reasons why. Annual birthday and anniversary cards are about it. I know both of us would be thrilled to receive a handwritten letter from the other identifying all the reasons we’re still so happy to be a part of this marriage.
2. Do something they love.
My husband and I have divergent interests. He loves playing golf and watching futuristic TV shows, and I love spending time in the kitchen and watching cheesy dramas. Shock your spouse this year by planning a day dedicated to something he or she loves!
3. Give the gift of alone time.
I love my husband. I love our children. But from the time I was young, I’ve occasionally needed time alone to recharge. I’d guess that many parents are the same way. As much I love being with the ones I love, sometimes it’s necessary to have a break from questions and diapers and being “on”.
I never want or need much time to myself; I usually only last a few hours before I begin to miss the noise and the sloppy kisses.
This Valentine’s Day, giving the gift of alone time can be a thoughtful no-cost or low-cost gift. Consider allowing your spouse to get out and about alone, or maybe with a friend. A few hours sipping fancy coffee or browsing a favorite store might be the perfect gift. Or, if possible, take the kids out or to visit family while the other parent hangs at home, napping or catching up on a favorite show.
4. Take a walk down memory lane.
If your relationship is anything like mine, it has evolved over the years. The new and exciting affection of the early years has been replaced by a deep, steady love born out of confronting the raw realities of life together. That transition is natural and necessary.
I wouldn’t trade the lessons we’ve learned or the way we’ve grown with each other for anything, but it’s easy to get caught up in the details of day-to-day life. Sometimes it’s nice to remember the people we were when we fell in love nearly ten years ago (or more!) This February 14, dig out those old photo albums and love notes. Remind yourselves of the reasons you fell in love.
5. Prepare a special meal.
Tastes and smells have the power to take us back in time the same way sights and sounds do. Think back over the course of your relationship, particularly the beginning, and focus on the meals you enjoyed together.
What stands out in your mind? Maybe it’s the cuisine you enjoyed on your first date, or the first time he made you breakfast in bed. For dinner on Valentine’s Day, recreate that special meal in your own kitchen.
What are your favorite frugal ways to show your love?
Abby is the wife of a patient man, mom to their two baby bears, and teacher of some cool kids. She loves dark chocolate and pretty napkins; the kitchen is her happy place. She lives in Mississippi and blogs at Winstead Wandering, where she shares the wandering thoughts of one who is not lost.
I was with a group of friends earlier this week and one of the gals asked me, “So, are you all ready for Christmas?”
She was referring to whether or not I have all our presents purchased and wrapped and whether the myriad of other Christmas details were taken care of.
I wasn’t sure how to answer that question. You see, we simplified Christmas so much this year that it almost feels like we cancelled Christmas.
Only we didn’t.
We just decided that the past few months have been full enough that instead of trying to pack our December full, we’d instead leave it really, really empty.
Our extended families had already asked if we could cut back and really simplify when it came to gifts this year and we’d already decided that we were going to keep our kids’ gifts super simple, too.
Then, we decided to just let the kids choose which Christmas decorations they wanted to put up. They opted for their little pink Christmas tree — which they had fun decorating themselves.
Next, we decided that we’d skip sending Christmas cards. And pretty soon, after we’d crossed off or nixed most of the usual Christmas obligations or activities we’d opted to do in the past, we were left with a wide open December.
And it has been bliss. Bliss, I tell you.
We’ve hung out as a family more. We’ve read together more. We’ve snuggled together and watched Christmas movies together. We’ve listened to a lot of Christmas music. We’ve gone to bed early. We’ve slept in. And we’ve not felt rushed or stressed or exhausted or frantic.
For the most part, December has been one of the calmest and quietest months we’ve had in ages. And it’s freed up much-needed space to just breathe, listen, love, rest, and enjoy being together.
Do I think families who have opted for lots of beautiful decorations, lots of Christmas shopping, and lots of festive activities are doing it wrong? Not in the least.
We’ve had years in the past where the Christmas season has been bustling with a lot of fun and where I found so much fulfillment in spending hours and hours picking out the perfect gifts to bless others. I don’t regret those years or those memories one bit.
But I also don’t regret having a quiet and simple Christmas this year. Sometimes, your soul just needs to take a step back and breathe.
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