heart_in_natureKids (or parents) sign the cards.

Kids pass them out to their friends.

Friends look for the ones with candy or other goodies attached.

The other cards are quickly forgotten and eventually end up in the trash.

Sadly, this is what I think off when Valentine’s Day approaches. Working in preschools for many, many years, I have witnessed the exchange of cards play out like this over and over again.

When my daughter was younger, we simply opted out of giving Valentine’s Day cards to her infant and toddler friends.

But now she is in Kindergarten. She knows what’s going on. And I certainly don’t want her to be the only one to not hand out cards.

Isn’t that always the dilemma? I don’t want my kids to miss out but at the same time, I don’t want to do something, simply because everyone else does it.

Maybe I’m missing something here.

Growing up in East Germany, we didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. And when I moved to the US, I was confused by the fact that children were exchanging little cards.

What was the point of it all?

Having lived here for over 15 years now, I still didn’t understand why children do it.

Looking for answers, I quickly came across the facts.

  • In its origin, it is the celebration of one or more Saints named Valentinus.
  • Geoffrey Chausser may have “invented” the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day today. A day to proclaim ones love.
  • Handwritten verses became popular but soon gave way to cards assembled in factories in the early 19th century.
  • In the mid 19th century, printed cards quickly became a mass-product.
  • Gifts of flowers, chocolates and jewelry have been added to the celebration during the 20th century.

I have to admit that I was surprised that this day has such deep roots in mass production. And this statement by Hallmark is a good reminder, that we as consumers directly influence what is sold in stores:

The Hallmark corporation does not create such holidays and says they “wish it were so easy that we could dream up products and people would flock to our stores to buy them”, and that they only do it when there is “a real consumer need that we meet with our products.”

As more and more families are looking for a simpler, more meaningful lifestyle, maybe the mass-produced heart-themed products will decline. Maybe they will not.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that does matter is the fact that I choose to create a tradition that is a bit more meaningful than the Hallmark approach. A way of celebrating this day that makes us look forward to it and enjoy it.

Homemade cards were the answer for us this year.

I had an idea. I proposed it to my daughter and she was all over it.

We decided to make Heart-Shaped Coloring Cards. Fun for her friends. And fun for us to make.

Valentines_Day_Heart_Coloring_Card

Inspired by a recent coloring book I had purchased called “Secret Garden”, we gathered our supplies and began sketching out designs. We talked about what we liked and didn’t like about each others drawings. And in the end, we each created a final design that emerged out of our collaborative efforts.

Working side by side with her was priceless.

I scanned our drawings. She watched while I added the final touches in Photoshop. And then we printed them on white card stock and cut them out.

Valentines_Day_Coloring_Heart

Watching her admire the cards with both pride and joy made my day.

And look at that….Valentine’s Day had become a delight almost instantly.

We always enjoy drawing and coloring together. But this time, it was different. We worked together on a project for someone else. We did teamwork, as she would say. And it felt wonderful.

And it is our Valentine’s Day gift to you. Download the cards (2 per page) or the larger version coloring page. (Note: print cards double-sided for greeting on back OR write your own)

Valentine_Day_Card_ThumbnailValentine_Heart_Thumbnail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, am I trying to say that everyone should scour Pinterest and create their own elaborate homemade cards? Absolutely NOT!

This was our way of finding meaning and joy in Valentine’s Day. It was more about the time spent together than the actual card (though, we do love it).

My message to you?

Savor this opportunity to spend time together and make it memorable. This in one of this things that could easily turn into yet another task on your to-do list. I still don’t quite understand why children have to exchange cards, but I decided that this wasn’t an issue worth tackling and chose to use this chance to do something fun with my girl.

If you don’t want to make homemade cards, go buy a box of cards. This is not a contest!

If you do want to make homemade cards but don’t have the time, skill or interest to make it fancy, by all means KEEP IT SIMPLE.

A heart cut out off red paper is perfect.

Your child painting or scribbling on white paper and you cutting hearts out of the paper is beautiful.

A simple card with a special note to your child’s best friend(s) is meaningful.

For the first time, I am grateful for social pressure. Grateful that it nudged me to dig deeper and discover the joy and beauty in such a commercialized holiday.

Do you have a special Valentine’s Day tradition? Do you go all out? Do you keep it simple?

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