February 9, 2015

Celebrate Valentine's Day as a Family - Photo by Tessa Zundel (HobbyFarms.com) #ValentinesDay #crafts #kidscrafts

Something I’ve noticed about living on a homestead is that the closer I get to the dirt, the more in tune I become with the natural rhythms of each season. My children have easily picked up on this, too, and it’s become a part of how we educate them and what we do together as a family. Seasonal traditions become essential.

When I was young, I appreciated the consistency of my family’s traditions, from food to decorations. Even children privileged to grow up in very happy families can benefit from the security the anticipation provides. Almost every holiday in our family had a tradition attached to it, but Valentine’s Day, for the most part, was always a holiday we passed over. We got chocolate from Grandpa, but otherwise, pretty much ignored it. We were kids, and Valentine’s Day was for grown-ups and all that mushy love nonsense.

When my first daughter was young, she took a fancy to the Victorian scrap and heart doilies I put out to craft a few homemade Valentines cards one year. She loved the excitement surrounding an anonymous gift left for Daddy and the special, heart-shaped treat we would make together for Grandma. What can I say? Her enthusiasm for a holiday dedicated to showing love rubbed off on me, and I realized I was missing an opportunity. In our house, Valentine’s Day has evolved into a family and homestead holiday.

Love for the Farm

Our gifts for Valentine’s Day are always simple and homemade, especially for the animals. We make our favorite frozen bird feeder for the poultry. The goats always get the very precious last bit of preserved, homestead-grown rose hips; we save them back especially to show the goats how much we love and appreciate them.

Even our little orchard and vineyard get a dose of affection this time of year, as we head out in the still wintry winds to begin the month-long ordeal of pruning. Sometimes I’m so tempted to just let it go—it’s cold up on that ladder and often quite wet. The simple truth is, though, that I love my trees and vines; I appreciate the service they render to my family throughout the year.

Show Kindness to Others

I know a lot of people—some with farm sprouts and some who live alone—who struggle with Valentine’s Day. The day is complicated by the reality of tricky inter-personal relationships, or we’re just tired of how commercial the holiday has become. Still others of us, though we may be slow to admit it, are disappointed in the day because we are too much focused on ourselves and what we have (or have not) received.

May I offer a suggestion?

Turn Valentine’s Day into a family affair—even if that family is just you and your cat. Find someone to serve, someone to surprise and someone to show your love to for this day. What an opportunity: a whole day to do nothing but serve the people we love! You have the rest of this week; think about it and pick one or two people (or animals on your farm) that you’re going to really blow away with kindness this Valentine’s Day.

Give Decorations as Gifts

I’m a tactile kind of girl—I need something to do. All the introspection and feeling surrounding Valentine’s Day is great, but my kids and I need a hands-on project to engage in. We love to decorate for holidays, so we decided to focus on that: Valentine decorations to give as gifts. Here are two of the things we did this year. Bear in mind that my kids are small and we’re focusing more on sentiment than style.

Feed Sack Heart Garland

Celebrate Valentine's Day as a Family - Photo by Tessa Zundel (HobbyFarms.com) #ValentinesDay #crafts #kidscrafts

We have neighbors who are also homesteaders, and we figured if anyone around here would appreciate this Valentine decoration, it would be them. We suggested they hang it on their chicken coop, but it would also be cute hanging on a mantle or running the length of a shabby chic dining table.

To make these, we followed the instructions found on the blog Directions NOT Included. The garland is super simple to make, and my kids barely need my help. Modern feed sacks (the plastic type, not the old-fashioned fabric ones) are unpredictable creatures, thick in some places and thin in others. We found the paper bags with the inner plastic liner worked best for this project; straight plastic was too weak to bend well and hold its shape. Before getting started, dust out or wash down the inside of the feed sack.

The garland is a bit of work, but it makes us smile. Upcycling is so fun to do with kids, and we have quite a few feed sacks around here.

Borax Crystal Ornaments

Celebrate Valentine's Day as a Family - Photo by Tessa Zundel (HobbyFarms.com) #ValentinesDay #crafts #kidscrafts 

We also have some neighbors we love who are decidedly not into homesteading so when we gift them something, we try to fancy it up. Farmer-type folks are so often down-to-earth practical, we forget that some people like to simply be decorative now and then. We learned to make these ornaments by following the instructions found on the blog Schneier Peeps and were so happy with the results.

Borax is something I always have on hand to make homemade laundry detergent, and we seem to constantly have pipe cleaners coming out our ears. The only other things required were a container, boiling water and some raffia. Anyone can do this and the result is a sweet, little Valentine decoration easily made out of supplies you may already have on hand.

One of my greatest heroines once said:

Celebrate Valentine's Day as a Family - Photo by Tessa Zundel (HobbyFarms.com) #ValentinesDay #crafts #kidscrafts

Family is about time. Take the time this Valentine’s Day to make it a special one for all your family and friends. For more ideas on how to incorporate quality traditions into your family’s life, visit my blog.

Get more Valentine’s Day ideas from HobbyFarms.com:

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