Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day on a budget

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day.  I loved it in elementary school, though.  I think that was only because it was a fun party in the middle of the very dreary, boring winter months.  My mom used it as an opportunity to show us some love and she'd have a small gift on the table in the morning and when we were older, she'd send us flowers at school.  It was nice to feel loved and appreciated above and beyond the normal hugs and kisses. I guess that's what it's about isn't it?

In my marriage, we've never been big on Valentine's Day.  We've been together for 10 Valentine's Days and that's pretty much 10 February's that we have done minimal "extra's" on that day.  It started because for our first 3 V-Day's as a couple, I was sick.  So we'd order a heart-shaped pizza from our favorite local pizza spot and fall asleep watching a movie.  Now that we're adults, we still don't do anything fancy...  In fact, as a mockery of all the commercialization of this "holiday,"  I sent Luke a singing Valentine to his work.  He was serenaded by a man with a guitar in front of all his coworkers to the song "Your Body is a Wonderland" while I died of laughter in the background.

As mom to an 8 year old though, I feel like I should celebrate it for the reasons my mom did... A special day to acknowledge how much we love her.  In reality, I think we do an extraordinary job of this year round.  She's an only child and therefore gets all our love, attention and free time.  But for the sake of the holiday, I usually relent and participate.  In years past we've bought cards, flowers, chocolates, and stuffed animals.

This year we're on a budget though.  We've had lots of unexpected expenses needed to care for family, and I'm working hard at not spending above my means.  That's easier said than done when V-Day is essentially a day to spoil your loved ones.  So she got to choose her V-day Cards to give to friends and family.  I told her the sky was the limit... up to three dollars.  She chose horse cards.  Ok, done.  Because we homeschool, she won't have the school party that most other kids do.  So I have to do that too.  "Cookies!" I think... "We can make and decorate sugar cookies."  Then I remember I'm out of flour and sugar.  Crap.  A quick glance through my pantry revealed some 4th of July Fun-fetti cake mix and an almost-full container of white frosting and red food coloring.  I googled "cookies from cake mix" and found a way to make it work.  Ok, done.

I remember doing crafts for V-day at school... what can we do?!  Since we just took down the last of our Christmas decorations during the last week of January, (no judging)  I decide that we can replace the red and green paper chain that usually adorns our living room during the holidays with a red, pink and purple heart paper chain.  So there it is, a craft that occupied her for over an hour, produced countless giggles, fed her creativity because she got to do it all by herself as a surprise for me and Luke, and decorated our living room for what will probably end up being a month.

I think I'll make a homemade card for her on Thursday evening and maybe a heart-shaped egg Friday morning and call it done.  No gift, but on the heels of Christmas/birthday season for her... she needs nothing right now anyway.

Sometimes it's easy for moms to get caught up with the "have-to's."  Really the only thing you HAVE TO do is love your little every day.  And make sure they know it every day... not just Valentine's Day.  It doesn't usually take a whole lot to impress a child... Just a little extra thought and resourcefulness on your part can make V-day on a budget the most special Valentine's Day yet.