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Have a Heart

This morning I ate red pancakes for breakfast. Very red pancakes. My mixing bowls are red, my measuring cups are red, my utensils are red, and I’m pretty sure my tongue might be red too. This is what happens when you have a kid. You remember that Valentine’s Day exists—and against all odds, you enjoy it.

You see, for many years I was a Valentine’s Day scrooge. The anti-cupid. As far as I could tell, the holiday served only to make uncoupled people feel bad for themselves. And even once I married, it just wasn’t a big deal in my house. After all the calories and expense of Christmas, another celebration just felt like a nuisance. (I told you. Scrooge.)

But now I have a school-age child, a 5-year-old who views life as a giant hopscotch game in which we bounce from one holiday to the next, celebrating every stop with crafts, foods and classroom parties. To her, February 14th is a Big Deal, and her enthusiasm is infectious. After all, in the dead of a Polar Vortex kind of winter, who doesn’t want a little color (or sugar) to brighten our dark days? Together, we’ve checked out funny Valentine’s stories from the library, gorged on those addictive chewy cinnamon hearts and—best of all—crafted up a storm. (My favorite: A mobile made by ironing crayon shavings between sheets of wax paper, then cutting “stained-glass” hearts to hang from thread.)

And so, on this day of love and roses and boxes of chocolates, I urge any Valentine’s Day Scrooges out there to give in to the holiday and treat yourself to something fun today. Drizzle pink icing on muffins. Send a note to an old friend. Bake brownies and cut them into heart shapes. Maybe even give our cupcake bouquet a try, and share the results with friends over the weekend. Or take a cue from me and dump a horrific amount of food coloring into your favorite pancake batter, just because it's a holiday, and it's winter, and you know it will make someone in your life very, very happy—and that her smile will make your heart burst.

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