For some reason, the month of all-things mushy gushy, chocolate covered and floral scented just happens to be the shortest one on the calendar. That means you’ll need to work extra hard to make sure that family members know just how much they are loved in a shorter span of time.
Take advantage of every day this month, not just February 14, to celebrate the gift of love in your family. Leave sticky-notes with affirmations on bedroom doors, place small trinkets or gifts on pillows, give verbal adorations freely and find fun activities to take part in that express your deepest sentiments all month long. Add some of the zany, but real, holiday celebrations below to the family fun this month or create some unique family ones of your own.
➤ International Friendship Week — Celebrate the gift of friendship in the life of your family. Talk around the dinner table about each family member’s friends, sharing what makes each of those friends special. Discuss the qualities and actions of a good friend. Then brainstorm ways to recognize each of those family friends and take action to show your appreciation. Write notes, make homemade Valentine’s Day cards, bake and deliver cookies, host play-dates or find another fun way to say, “Thanks for being a good friend.”
➤ Valentine’s Day — Have fun creating this bouquet of family love craft project. Use a white sheet of poster board for the background. Let each family member take turns dipping a hand into red paint. Make a red handprint on the poster board. Keep the handprints fairly close together, to resemble a bouquet of flowers. Use a green marker to add stems to each handprint. While the paint dries, prepare the next part of the flower. Give each person a pink paper cupcake liner. From a selection of craft materials like small pom poms, small buttons, beads, bells or other small trinkets, embellish the inside of the cupcake liner attaching various craft materials with glue. When the glue and paint are completely dried, glue the cupcake liners to the palms of each respective handprint. Add a ribbon tied in a bow to the green stems of the bouquet, and voila — a family bouquet of love!
➤ Chili Day — On a chilly night this month, serve a chili bar to warm up the tummies in the family. Work together in the kitchen to prepare a batch of chili using a favorite recipe or follow the directions on the back of an envelope of chili seasoning envelope that uses these ingredients: 1 pound of ground beef or turkey, one seasoning package, 16 ounces of tomato sauce and 16 ounces of kidney beans. While the chili is simmering, place a variety of toppings in small bowls to create a chili bar. Choose from this list or other offerings the family likes: various shredded cheeses, shredded lettuce, chopped scallions and onion bits, chopped jalepeno pieces, diced avocado bits, sliced olives, chopped tomatoes, corn, bacon bits, sour cream, guacamole and crushed chips.
➤ World Pangolin Day — What and where in the world is a pangolin? Well, it’s an adorable looking, yet almost-prehistoric looking, armored anteater type of animal. The body of the nocturnal pangolin is covered in hard, plate-like scales, and it eats insects. Unfortunately, the recent notable distinction of the pangolin is that it is the most heavily-trafficked mammal due to illegal trade for meat and various body parts used for medicinal purposes. Four species live in Africa and four species live in Asia.
As a family, take a look at reputable websites, like National Wildlife Federation.org, to find a list of threatened and endangered species. Look at pictures, read success stories and research ways that you, as a family, can do your part to help protect the animals that walk (or climb or slither or fly or crawl or swim) on this great planet with us.
➤ Read Aloud Day — Check out books from the library, age appropriate for the little ones in the family, and spend an afternoon taking turns reading aloud new or favorite books. Find winter or Valentine picture books if you have little ones and read a plethora aloud together. Or, for slightly older kids, try some of these holiday books: "Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine," "A to Z Mysteries: Secret Admirer" or "Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Valentine’s Day Secret." And better yet — don’t just make it one day — be sure to spend lots of minutes each month reading aloud together. It’s a healthy habit you’ll be so glad you instilled at an early age!
Find lots and lots of activities and fun to squeeze into the shortest month on the calendar to share your unending love and make every day a holiday this month.
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.