Three Reasons

kids valentine's day traditions

Today, we are delighted to share with you a beautiful essay submitted by one of our readers, Hadley Duncan Howard. She tells of a lovely tradition her family has. It’s one that Danny & I would love to adopt ourselves. We aren’t the type to exchange expensive gifts and diamond stud earrings on Valentine’s Day, but we do appreciate any tradition that increases the feeling of love in our home.


Three Reasons

Hadley Duncan Howard

For many years, my husband and I have played a game we call Three Reasons. In a restaurant, in the car, during commercials, whenever: one of us will say “Tell me three reasons why you love me.” The reasons are varied and sundry: insightful, romantic, hilarious, mundane. Sometimes surprising in their simplicity or specificity, the reasons are always appreciated and reciprocated. And, since we’ve become parents, also shared with our daughters.

Luke will say, “Catherine, tell me three reasons why you love Elinor;” the extrapolation of that question to reach all of us is an exercise in the expression of love, certainly — but also thoughtfulness, gratitude, institutional memory (family lore) and, on occasion, humility. Three Reasons is an excellent instructor in the ties that bind.

With this wee rhythm of daily living quietly beating, it seemed natural to make a repository for these expressions — on paper. Why lose them to time and the night air when, by simply recording them, they’ll become future treasures? So, a few Januarys ago, I covered a box with red polka dot wrapping paper and cut a hole in the top to make a Valentine Mailbox. Beside the box is a stack of business cards, blank except for the XO printed on them. Each day, or whenever the mood strikes us, we write a love note to each member of our family. Each February 14, at our family Valentine Ball, we read the notes aloud. We hug. We kiss. We blow raspberries on necks. We tickle. We laugh. We dance. We sing. We compliment each person’s choice of “formal attire.” We make happy fools of ourselves. We reminisce. We love.

We belong.

And we save the notes.

Because, as much as we each desire to know we’re loved and valued on Valentine’s Day, what’s infinitely more meaningful is to know — with proof — that we’re loved and valued every day.

Valentine’s Day is for families. Claim it for your own.

-Hadley Duncan Howard 

(Photos from a Mother & Daughter Valentine’s Tea, hosted by Hadley Duncan Howard & her daughters. I think a Valentine’s Tea is in order for little girls everywhere!)


Have you created some Valentine’s traditions with your children? I’d love to hear! My mom was always so sweet on Valentine’s Day. It was the holiday the chocolate molds came out. My siblings and I would wake up to pretty packages of chocolate hearts and chocolate roses sitting on our dressers. 🙂 🙂

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  1. Danielle February 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    How sweet. We actually do, pretty much the same thing for V-Day. We call it the compliment jar and read all our love notes to one another on the 14th. The kids like hearing all the nice things we say about them. And Danny and I enjoy all the mushy attention as well. Another thing I plan on adding this year is a weeks worth of service for the hubby and kiddos. Just a bunch of little acts of kindness.
    Happy Valentines Day!

  2. rebecca February 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    valentine's day always equaled candy day for me. i'd love to say that we didn't something as sentimental as this. but no. we just ate candy.

  3. Karen February 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    oh my goodness, what a beautiful tradition! thank you for sharing!

  4. Sara February 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Does this post make anyone else want daughters to share a Valentine's Day tea with? What a lovely tradition and one I absolute admire!

  5. Anonymous February 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I love today's 3 reasons entry. I too would love to adopt this tradition one day into my family. It is a beautiful way of continually leting everyone know how much they are loved and appreciated. Also… I am anxiously (yet trying oh so hard to practice my patience)anxiously waiting for another love story. I cannot wait to hear of the day you finally met and the feelings that were there. Your story has inspired me that even though divorce happens and it can be tragic, that if we are living our lives the best we can, and have unwavering faith, that good things are in store for everyone.

  6. Megan February 7, 2012 at 12:14 am - Reply

    I love Valentine's Day with families. My mom always had baskets and treats for us in the morning and once we got into junior high and high school, my dad always had balloons, flowers and a fancy bottle of red hot candies for us in the office from our secret admirer, "Alfonse". It always made my sisters and me smile and we never felt left out if we didn't have a date or boyfriends that year because our name was always on the school office window to let us know we had a package along with all the other girls!

  7. Molly February 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    This would be really fun to do! Unfortunately, I'd be the only one asking for reasons. My husband wouldn't ever ask for them. I'd just have to ask and give freely. 🙂

  8. Tammy February 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    I get flowers every Valentines Day, it started with just one for one year…now we're up to a dozen!

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