When It Comes to Celebrating St. Valentine’s Day, I’m The Grinch

St. Valentine’s Day is here and it’s time for all those school Valentine’s Day parties. When I was a kid, I loved my school Valentine exchange with the excited gluttony-prone heart of a child. I was especially impressed by any kid whose parent let them buy Valentine branded with Disney characters or Scooby-Doo. And the very best valentines were the ones that came with candy attached.

St. Valentine was a 3rd century Roman priest who lived during a time when Roman soldiers were forbidden to marry. St. Valentine was willing to officiate marriages of Roman soldiers.

But this holiday that is supposed to celebrate marital love has become a holiday centered around junk-food indulgence, second only to Halloween. My kids now have Valentine’s Day parties at dance class, scouts, religious education, AND school. Even my eight-month-old had a Valentine’s Day party. It seems so absurd—we are still advancing her through baby food vegetables yet people at school are giving her Dora the Explorer candy hearts. And then there are free treats from relatives, the bank, even the pediatrician… Should I even bother to make dinner during Valentine’s week?

Ironically, February is recognized as American Heart Month, a time when we are supposed to focus on heart-healthy activities such as a healthy diet. And Americans need heart health. Over 18% percent of children and adolescents are now overweight, and all this Valentine’s Day candy isn’t helping. An estimated 4 million children have elevated blood pressure and twenty-seven million children have high cholesterol. These children will soon become adults with heart disease, and millions of them will die from their heart disease. So maybe we really should try to find an alternative to all this Valentine’s Day candy.

For a few years, I tried to get my kids to give out fancy hand-made Valentines without treats attached. Only Grandma seemed to appreciate this approach.

So then we tried almost-healthy Valentine treats such as fruit snacks and granola bars, until my kindergartener told me that kids in his class just threw them out.

We had slightly more success with non-edible treats such as stickers, but I am still peeling heart stickers from three years ago off my kitchen chairs.

And so here we are again… time to make the Valentines.

Yes, my kids are giving out candy with their school Valentines this year. We have compromised and agreed on one Dum-Dum lollipop per Valentine. Dum-Dums have about 25 calories each and take about ten minutes to eat—that’s only a cost of 2.5 calories per minute for toddler sweet-toothed gluttony.

But this year we are focusing on making real valentines for the people we love and telling them we love them. We are also saying the rosary together as a family. Not rocket science, but it took me years to get here. Maybe next year I won’t be such a Valentine’s grinch.

Author: Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, Pediatrician & Founder of MyCatholicDoctor

Editor: Samantha Wright, Director of Development with MyCatholicDoctor

Make an appointment or send Dr. Berchelmann a message: 

Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D.

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