This year in BC, Valentine’s Day and Family Day are both in the same week. In the lead up to this week, I’ve found myself pondering a few questions: What traditions do I want to establish (if any) for my family around Valentines Day and/or Family Day? What memories do I want to create? What values does my family hold that are reflected in these days?

Valentine’s Day, as a day to celebrate your sweetheart, is full of social pressures. What if you don’t have a sweetheart? What if don’t want a sweetheart? If you do have a sweetheart, what if you don’t want to partake in what is essentially a commercial holiday?

Elementary classroom Valentine’s Day celebrations are already a celebration of friendships and not romantic relationships. Most teachers ask that students, if they are going to bring Valentine’s Day cards to class, bring one for every child. In my conversations with my daughter, I make sure that she understands that she is giving cards to every classmate not because that is the rule, but because it is kind and thoughtful to include everyone.

I wonder if maybe Valentine’s Day as a way to celebrate kindness and friendships – for everyone, not just elementary school students – is gentler and less angst-filled. What if we all celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Week instead?

The spirit of Family Day, spending time with loved ones whether they are family or dear friends, feels more like the gentler Valentine’s Day that I wish for. Pulling in, reminding myself of my many blessings, slowing down and playing with my children – that is what I want to do. The memories that spending time together will create for my children, the deep message of “you are loved” that it gives them, the priceless opportunity I have to share my values with my children as I play and talk with them – that is what I want to do.

Last week I signed up for an online course called Unclutter. You can read about it here. It is facilitated by Amy Kervin, who blogs and offers parenting courses on her website, Love Uncluttered. On her website, Amy advocates for “simplifying childhood (and parenthood) so that you can focus on the relationships that matter most.” In Unclutter, the course I participated in, Amy sends you seven emails, one a day, for a week. Each centers on something you can do in with your family to simplify – get away from “stuff” – in order to free up time and energy so that you can focus on each other.

My timing in signing up was perfect. As this week of Valentine’s Day and Family Day drew near, the questions that Amy posed were a good reminder of what is important to my family and me. Reading and thinking on her emails helped me articulate what I had been feeling but not able to put words to easily.

There are still wonderings I have about Valentine’s Day and how I want to celebrate it – I think I may always wrestle with this one. I have, though, been able to remind myself of how I want to be with my family and what values I want to share with them. For me, these values are more in line with Family Day, so that is the day that we are celebrating more than Valentine’s Day in our house. And we are celebrating it by spending time together, being grateful for each other, and being kind.

Happy Family Day,