I don’t understand the indignation surrounding Valentine’s Day. Sure Hallmark is laughing all the way to the bank, but the very core of the holiday is sharing love. Why would we miss any occasion to say “I love you”? Doesn’t it feel good to hear? Doesn’t it feel great to say? What’s wrong with an extra opportunity to say it? It doesn’t make the “I love you” I said yesterday or the “I love you” I’ll say tomorrow any less poignant. The expectations of chocolate and flowers etc. is a different beast altogether, but I’m always grateful to hear professions of love, I’ll take it. My husband and I exchange cards and nothing more. I treasure these cards. His words are so loving, not necessarily any more or less so than my birthday cards or anniversary cards, but I keep all of them. I love it, I love wallowing in love, I love celebrating love.
Now my kids are another matter. I love them. I adore them. But my Valentine is my romantic love, my husband. We made 40 (seriously, 40) little Valentines for my son’s little schoolmates. He is so innocent, so blissfully unaware that his love for his mother or his stuffed bunny could be different than the love I have for Daddy. I wasn’t planning to do anything for them, really, shy of maybe baking cookies and of course sharing love love love all day. But the kids’ grandparents sent them each Valentines cards (in the mail, no less, there is nothing more thrilling than receiving personal mail at that age). Then yesterday a neighbor came by with two amazingly thoughtful bags of homemade heart-shaped sugar cookies and some little chocolates and cards for each of them. A neighbor I’ve met exactly once. I was upstaged by a virtual stranger. So last night I took the leftover red heart doilies from the 40 Valentines (seriously, 40) and taped them on the kids’ doors. This morning I painstakingly made two little plates full of perfect heart-shaped pancakes. They were, of course, received with a prompt “Oh, hearts. Will you cut them up now please? OOOOOH! MAPLE SYRUP!!!!!” I broke out the heart-shaped cookie cutter for my son’s PB & J sandwich, then I wrote on the last doily- “I love you” and stuffed it into his lunch box. Here’s the thing- I know he can read it. This is a new thing, the window of his excitement to learn to read has opened wide in the last week or so, and I’m just wanting to pounce on that. So as I was writing out “I love you”, I became a little choked up. He was going to open his lunch and be surprised by the note, and then actually read it. And know that I love him. That’s a major milestone-reading his first note by himself. Next year? I’m going all out. Cards. Cookies. Maybe even a Valentine garland. Yeah, man.
Now onto the book. Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of many crazy-inventive children’s books (that I can’t believe haven’t shown up here yet, I’ve got to get on that), has a series called Cookies. They’re kind of an intro to virtues for children, definitions, really, of principles all in relation to cookies. They are all deliciously wholesome with charming old-fashioned illustrations. We’ve read “Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons“, where we learned that PATIENCE is waiting for the cookies to bake, and COOPERATE means ‘how about you add the chips while I stir?” We’ve also read “One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Life Lessons for the School Years and Beyond,” where we learned that PREPARED means looking at the recipe ahead of time so we can make sure we have everything we need, and PONDER is thinking carefully about what kind of cookies to make for your friend. I thought 2009′s “Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Love” would be appropriate for Valentine’s Day.
The vocabulary words this time are, of course, all about love. Endearment, unconditionally, compassionate, tenderness, all sweetly relating to cookies. I don’t know about you, but when my 5 year old breaks out a nice big word and uses it correctly, my first instinct is, of course, to giggle in surprise, but then to give him major props. I love it.
If you can read this book aloud to your little darling snuggling in your lap without tearing up, you are stronger than I. And yes, commercials get me too. And singing.
I mean, come on. So much sweetness!
I just die reading through these. To top it off, there’s even a recipe for sugar cookies in the back of the book. I’m going to break out that heart-shaped cookie cutter again this afternoon after school.
I’m going to leave you today with a clip that makes me well up every time I watch it- LOVE LOVE LOVE, you guys! Isn’t that nice to share?
By the way, February 14th is also International Book Giving Day- so forgoing the standard chocolate and roses might not be a bad idea- check out this webpage!