Celebrating Valentine’s Day the Simple Way

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It’s no secret that I love Valentine’s Day. No, not the romance and flowers part; I am a fool for the heart crafts and the cheesy puns. I even love the occasional odd poem. Most of all, I enjoy planning gifts with my kids for each of the people on their classroom list, and then watching them carefully sign each one.

But what to do in a year when there is no classroom?

I was ready to let this holiday slip by without fanfare, alongside the many, many other traditions that have been disrupted or outright cancelled due to the pandemic. Sad, a little, sure. I comforted myself by acknowledging that missing out on Valentine’s Day isn’t devestating, and that we all would survive.

But then the thought dawned on me that maybe this year, more than ever, is a year we should truly share our love. We don’t need the classroom crafts, but we can still tell our valentines what they mean to us. It might be that this is the very Valentine’s Day we should make an extra effort to celebrate.

Valentine's Day heart on a string

A Different Kind of Valentine

Under normal circumstances (what does normal even mean anymore???), I’d spend hours preparing and carefully assembling my the kids’ Valentines Day goodies for their classmates. The Valentines would be clever. They would be crafty. They would be on Instagram.

This year, we were at the coast for a COVID-friendly getaway when I decided Valentine’s Day was not going to go ignored. All I had on hand was white copy paper and 15 markers. With those limited supplies, I asked my kids to write Valentine’s Day letters to our family members. No frills. Not fancy. But, with feeling.

Kid writing valentine's day letterFor the little ones, they could make drawings, and I transcribed a written message. For the older ones, I asked them to say a few heartfelt words. Some of them, honestly, made me tear up a little. One of my kids made me swear to secrecy not to read his letter. I agreed (so hard!).

Joy Unexpected

I had a moment of envisioning the recipients on the other end. It’s been a hard year on everyone. Having never done a letter-writing campaign with my children, I knew it would come as a complete surprise to their valentines. I imagined the smile that would come to their faces as they opened the letter, and the very thought made me smile.

Wax sealsThen we did one fancy thing and closed the letters with a wax seal (yes, I brought the wax seals to the coast, what???) to ensure authenticity. Each kid got to choose their own seal, and we packed up the letters to send on their merry way.

Next came the hardest part of the process: stamps. Not something I had thought to pack. Due to COVID, we try not to stop in stores; could we get stamps curbside? Not a phrase I would have ever thought I would hear myself say, but, it’s been a year. We eventually got some stamps and sent our heartfelt Valentines via snail mail, dropping them in a post box near the ocean.

And I felt better about it than even the best of class crafts.

You still have a few days to get a simple letter in the mail. Whether you send scrawled out letters from a kid just learning to write or the awkward words of a reticent teen, think of the joy you’ll bring your valentine this year. I promise it will bring you joy, too.

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Lee Ann
Lee Ann moved to Portland in 2008 following an eight-year stint in Paris, France, where her first son was born. Though she thought nowhere could compete with the City of Lights, the City of Roses immediately stole her heart. As a great place to raise kids, she loves getting out and exploring the city and region with her husband and four young children. While in France, Lee Ann earned a B.A. in Journalism and a Master's in Linguistics at the American University of Paris and L'Universite de Paris - La Sorbonne, respectively, before returning stateside to become a Speech-Language Pathologist through the Portland State University graduate program. Throughout her studies, she kept one foot in the digital world, writing content for publications and creating websites for clients. After many years as a medical Speech Pathologist, she left to the field to continue freelance writing, become the owner of Portland Mom Collective (!), and eventually to open Make + Take Studio, a community crafting space in North Portland. As a small business owner and mother, she strives to get some occasional "me" time in, which she likes to spend geocaching, jogging, sewing, and staring at the wall with no small humans talking to her. Get in touch by sending a note to leeann {at} portlandmomcollective {dot} com, or follow her on Instagram.