I could see the disappointment painted across her face before she even uttered a sound. Her eyes, usually so round and full of sparkle, were downturned and sad like the eyes of a lonely puppy in need of love and affection.
Dragging her feet in exaggerated steps, she made her way to the stove and wrapped herself around my legs.
What’s wrong, Sweet Girl? What’s bothering you today? Still feeling yucky?
Yes, no, I don’t know what’s bothering me.
Sitting down on the floor, I meet her at eye level.
Hmmm, I think I might know. Sometimes I feel sad when Christmas is over. For a month we look at lights, sing around the piano, look in the Advent calendar, and find Elfie. Then, just like that – it ends. I think you might be like me, Sweet Girl. I think you like the anticipation of the holiday more than the actual holiday.
With sobs and hiccups and tears the size of hail, she flops into my arms and lets it all out.
December was too fast for a month. I want to have it again.
I know, Sweet Girl. It was fast. With your birthday and all of the fun holiday stuff, it just went too fast.
Holding her tight, we rock back and forth on the hardwood floor while we inhale the scent of apple cinnamon pancakes cooking just above us.
I whisper I love yous and words meant to heal. Her sighs become heavy and less frequent in nature, until they finally stop.
We both turn at the sound of little footsteps sneaking up behind us.
Well, the best part of Christmas is being together and we can still be together.
Tears form at the corners of my eyes, threatening to escape as pride swells my heart. The words every parent wants to hear just came directly from the mouth of my sweet four-year-old boy…the best part of Christmas is being together.
I reach out and pull him into our embrace.
You are so right, Sweet Boy. The best part of Christmas is being together. And we have so many together moments to celebrate this year.
With tickles and jokes we return to the present – smiling ear to ear while enjoying pancakes fresh from the griddle.
But when will Valentine’s Day ever be here?
About six weeks, Sweet Boy. In February.
February? That’s forever! I wanted to make you a Valentine today!
My husband and I lock eyes for a moment. Their sweetness, in this moment, is almost overwhelming. It’s then that it truly hits us: They aren’t looking for gifts or treats or sweet surprises. They are looking for tradition. They are looking for the thrill of time spent as a family preparing for something special.
They want more magic…
Suddenly, I’m flooded with amazing ideas (no easy feat before even a single sip of coffee).
I have an idea! Who says Valentine’s Day only lasts one day? Why can’t we do fun Valentine things before the day arrives, just like we do for Christmas and Easter? I say we have six weeks of heart shaped days!
Their eyes light up in anticipation…
We can hide notes for each other around the house.
We can bake heart shaped cookies.
We can eat heart shaped sandwiches.
We can have a day of red.
I barely scratch the surface of the ideas flooding my brain before they run off to create and hide Valentines for one another.
Nice save, Mama.y husband smiles as he begins to embrace the Valentine spirit now pulsing through our home.
We can send them in search of one half of a heart to match the other.
I grin. He’s in.
And a Valentine treasure hunt, for sure.
Little hands tugging on my sweatshirt break my train of thought. Sweet Boy needs help cutting a heart for his sister. With great care, he colors it purple – her favorite color.
With cheers and squeals and homemade cards galore, our heart shaped days begin with a flurry of activity.
And just like that, a new tradition begins.
Six weeks of heart shaped days.
Let the Valentine magic begin…