Karen Overstreet | 2/1/2006 2:24:38 AM
Take advantage of the fact that this year Valentine’s Day occurs a couple of weeks before Mardi Gras and share your heart with others. That’s the advice of LSU AgCenter family resource management specialist Dr. Karen Overstreet.
Mardi Gras festivities often overshadow Valentine’s Day in Louisiana, but this year there’s plenty of time to celebrate both, Overstreet says.
Many groups such as the American Heart Association encourage heart-related activities during February as well as volunteer activities with a heart or love theme. Individuals or families can do the same.
"Although dinner with the kids may not be high on parents’ list of romantic celebrations, Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful time for family activity," Overstreet says, adding, "Even young children identify a heart with love and enjoy sharing something special."
The family expert suggests involving the whole family in planning a Valentine dinner. Since Valentine’s Day is about sharing love, encourage the family to come up with a plan to share with others. Is there a special neighbor who would enjoy eating with your family? What about inviting the new family at your child’s school?
Since Valentine’s Day falls on a weeknight, keep the plans relatively simple. Keep food preparation simple, or order out, but let the kids decorate the table. It’s not about perfection but about sharing. If you have older children, consider taking the dinner to someone – perhaps bagged meals for the homeless or a special donation to a soup kitchen. Older children may enjoy preparing a meal to deliver and share with someone who is housebound.
Overstreet says there are many other ways for your family to share Valentine’s Day. Encourage every family member to make a list of five people who have helped them in some way. They might be the soccer coach, crossing guard, minister, newspaper carrier, Sunday school teacher, receptionist at the doctor’s office, etc. Family members then writes short notes or drawings of appreciation to send to their five people.
Start a tradition of writing the notes before a special Valentine’s meal. The meal doesn’t have to be fancy but can be something you prepare every year. Don’t want to cook? Then as a family, drop the notes at the post office on your way to your favorite restaurant.
"Just think. A family of four will have brightened the day for 20 others!" Overstreet says.
For related topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter homepage, at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
Source: Karen Overstreet (225) 578-1425, or Koverstreet@agcenter.lsu.edu