I'm going to be honest. Tonight I feel a bit like a Valentine's scrooge. I didn't earlier. In fact I've always loved the day. But now I just got back from Walmart and it sucked all the Valentine's lovey feelings right out of me. That store tends to have that effect on me.
I went to Walmart on the eve of Valentine's to purchase a few small gifts for our children and candy for Lily's preschool valentine's, which of course I'd forgotten when I bought all the other stuff in advance.
Like many of you, we celebrate Valentine's as a family - heart-shaped pizza, Valentine's cake, and small gifts for our kids. Our daughters went to bed absolutely thrilled with very high expectations that Mom and Dad would deliver a fantastically love-filled (gift-filled) day.
And I was excited to deliver. But then the commercialism and crowds at Walmart sucked it all out of me.
We pinch pennies. Shocking, right? I know if you follow this blog that is not news to you. And many of you pinch pennies too. I'm not complaining about it...We choose to have me home full time, and we choose a nice spacious home and we choose reliable vehicles. So this isn't a complaint or a big deal, it's just a fact.
We pinch our pennies.
But then days like Valentine's come around. And $3 here for Valentine's cards for this child (have you noticed that there are only 16 valentine's in every single box, which is smaller than any class, so you HAVE to buy two boxes? AGGGHHH!!), and $3 here for that child's Valentine's, and then $3 for the CANDY that HAS to be taped to each Valentine's because we all know American children don't have enough sugar, and then a few small gifts for our children - very small - like matchbox cars and new barrettes and nail polish.
And guess what...it all adds up.
So then we frugal parents go really really stringent, and end up feeling like a failure at Walmart because there are "cooler" things we could get our kids if we didn't pinch pennies.
And then we are sucked into this commercialism lie that the monetary sum of our gifts reflects our love for for our children.
So I think we have to stop and ask ourselves what's behind it all. Because even though the $20 I spent on Valentine's isn't going to completely break the bank, I'm just throwing away $20 if I don't use Valentine's as a springboard to teach something beyond giving candy.
As a parent, I have a choice. To go along with just what's expected as the status quo valentine's celebration, or to teach my children that actually, putting a sugary-filled card into a child's box at school is not actually giving them the love they need.
Some of the student's in my daughter's class are desperate for love more than they are desperate for fun-dip. They need attention, not sugar. They need friends, someone to sit by at lunch, more than they need the fruit snacks my daughter is handing out tomorrow. They need me to come into the classroom when I can to give them my time more than they need all the junk I just spent $20 on.
And my own kids? Yes, I'm happy to give them matchbox cars and nailpolish. But do you know how many of both those things we already have? Alot. Do my kids need new ones? No.
Honestly? I just did it to go along with the status quo Valentine's. That's embarrassing to type.
So what can I do about it to make it something more? How can I make tomorrow more about the love of Jesus than about commercialism and candy for my own kids? What do my kids actually need from me tomorrow?
Well, more than the Valentine's cake that Lily requested, she needs my patience and joy while we bake the cake together. And more than the new watch that Evie requested (and isn't getting), she needs my time, one on one. She needs my listening ear for her stories. More than the matchbox cars that Gregory and Griffin are getting, they need me to get down on the floor and play cars and trucks with them. More than the new barrettes that my daughters are getting, they need Daddy to tell them how beautiful they already are.
And they need reminders and lessons from us about how to love their friends at school with the love of Jesus. Reminders to sit with the children that are sitting alone, and to help the child who is struggling with math, and to be kind to the child that is getting picked on. They need to be taught to love in action.
And they need to be covered in prayer that they will know the love of God - how wide and long and deep and high is God's unfailing love for them, every single day.
So that's my aim tomorrow. To love love love in action all day long.
My kids need my actual love. Not the pennies that got sucked out of me at Walmart.
Because love is better than fruit snacks or fun dip.
And the love of God will last eternally, far after the sugar rush of Valentine's day is over.