When I told Ben everyone was running late and we needed to cancel the dinner reservations (at a fancy Italian restaurant) on his birthday, I thought he’d be disappointed.
“I’m a Lehnardt,” he said, “I’ll be happy with dinner at home.”
Grateful for his cheerful attitude, I downloaded Uber Eats, ordered Thai and we ate picnic style on the family room floor. We crafted Valentines, frosted cupcakes and doorbell ditched at least twenty houses before coming home to a single candle and ice cream nachos instead of cake.
And Ben loved it all. He created the most fabulous valentines, enthusiastically deposited cupcakes on doorsteps, made joke after joke, praised our meager gifts and made everyone feel loved. What could be better? He spends his days at law school, his evenings doing homework, yet he always has time to bake bread for a friend and take a phone call from someone having a hard day (in fact, this has become one of his roles in life). Ben loves family and tradition.
I didn’t know if we could pull off all our Valentine traditions this year. By the end of birthday season, we’ve had so much cake and so many gatherings. The college students want to come to everything, but they have jobs and homework and midterms. Our family is changing and in some ways our traditions need to adjust.
I’m ashamed to admit we didn’t throw our Halloween pumpkins off the roof this year. Are we getting old? Unfun?
And yet it all happened. I spread all the Valentine making materials on the table and over the course of several days people cut and pasted, spread glitter and glue, typed and scribbled until we had piles of loves notes. We bought cherry pie filling, cream and puff pastry and had a baking party. Someone put together a love playlist and we danced around the kitchen. Baked cupcakes and poured rubbing alcohol on them so they would flame when we left them on a girls’ doorstep.
For one more year our traditions have been preserved– and the Valentine’s traditions are my favorite, most beloved traditions.
And thanks to Ben– our original and best Valentine– I think we’ll enjoy them for many years to come.