I am a single parent, so every Valentine's Day, I cook shrimp fettuccine for my two daughters, and I buy chocolate-covered strawberries for each of my girls. I spend the evening with them and explain the meaning of love, friendship and having/being a family.

— Johnita of Houston, Texas

I am writing to share with you how my father shares his love with my mother every day. His name is Warren, and he is an 88-year-old World War II veteran and the primary caregiver of my mother, who suffers from Parkinson's disease. Every morning, he gets her up, washes her face and gives her three kisses to start her day. He then prepares her breakfast and assists with feeding her. He carefully administers her many medications with the attention to detail of an accounting clerk (his former profession.) He does the laundry, cleans their house and buys the groceries, usually returning with a bouquet of flowers and a stuffed animal to brighten her day.

They have been married for 56 years and demonstrate on a daily basis what true love is all about. For my father, and the many elderly caregivers out there, Valentine's Day is every day.

— Judy of Highland Village, Texas

Valentine's Day is, was and always will be my favorite holiday! Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite color has been red. I remember every year on Valentine's Day, we got to wear red to school…everyone! Now that I'm older and have children, we make heart-shaped pizzas every Valentine's Day. One year, I was going to try something different, and my sons seemed insulted that I would change our tradition.

I am also a school teacher. Other holidays may come and go, but the students and parents in my class know that Valentine's Day means a BIG party! My husband and I also share a fun Valentine's tradition. At Starved Rock Park, the eagles return mid-February. We now go to the lodge for the weekend and watch the eagles return…we LOVE it!

— Sharon of Woodridge, Illinois

Every Valentine's Day, my mother, Millie, would bake the most beautiful heart-shaped sugar cookies and ice them and decorate the edges. They would take hours to complete. She would spend Valentine's Day delivering them to all her children who lived in the area, then to her grandchildren and then to her extended family.

Since she's been gone, I have recreated her recipe and am able to decorate just like she did. When my sister Diane opened the container last year, she had tears in her eyes as she smelled them and said, "Come around girls and smell these. Mom is with us today." My nephews Danny and Doug always call to thank me for the surprise box at their front door. They say, "Aunt Mary Ann, these are just like Grandma's. Happy Valentine's Day." I know my mother Millie's cookies are just another symbol of keeping the love around [that] connects our family on Valentine's Day.

— Mary Ann of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

My office consists of 11 women, so we can get away with crafts, food and often going over-the-top with holiday celebrations. We each decorate some sort of Valentine's box each year and deliver our Valentine cards to each person. We also make lots of sweet treats.

— Autumn of Des Moines, Iowa

My husband and I have been married 40 years. We have given the same Valentine's card to each other every year, writing new, little sweet notes to each other every year. Even when he was stationed in Vietnam in 1970, the cards made the long trip. We have run out of space in the body of the cards, so we have added additional sheets of paper.

We get such a kick out of reading our endearments. They started out very lovey-dovey and sort of became more historical in tone. Our cards can tell you exactly what was happening in the news in any given year between 1968 and today (his, not mine…I still go for the more "mushy"-type writing.) My birthday is on Valentine's Day, so these cards are a real treasure to me.

— Criss of Westerville, Ohio

My husband has run three marathons and two half marathons. He has also completed three triathlons. I have high blood pressure and a horrible family history of heart disease. I know that exercise is extremely important in keeping me healthy. So, I decided to set a goal for myself. This year for Valentine's Day, my husband and I will be running in the Myrtle Beach half marathon. We thought it would be a fun way to celebrate our 10th Valentine's Day together.

— Allison of Burlington, Iowa

My partner, Denise, and I try very hard to make sure we always treat each other well, which means we try to not make a big deal out of V-Day. We believe that the joy of having found one other should be celebrated each day and that we shouldn't only focus on being kind and loving to each other on "holidays." In fact, when we went through our commitment ceremony, one of the comments we specifically included was that we would always treat one another at least as well as we treat our friends.

It is far too easy today to not treat a partner with the same courtesy and respect that is reserved for friends because you don't want to offend them or because you give them the benefit of the doubt. It has been part of our secret to a fantastic life together and one that many people comment on as an example of how great a relationship can be!

— Tamara of Long Lake, Minnesota

I love Valentines Day. It's so special to me because it is also my husband's birthday. I decorate the house with balloons or confetti. The first part of the day is Valentine's Day and the second part of the day/night, we celebrate his birthday. Everything we eat is heart-shaped (pancakes, PB&J sandwiches). Every year, I surprise my husband at work (although it's no surprise now since I do it every year), dress my family in Valentine's clothing and bring him sweets (cupcakes, cake or cookies).

— Ivonne of Lake Forest, California

I spent 20 years divorced, and Valentine's Day usually meant another evening with a book. No champagne, no roses and no candy. Certainly no romance. One day, I was driving home from work and envying all the women who got roses at work. I was feeling low. I wanted a bouquet of something—as I drove down the street, I saw a barbecue drive-through. Then it hit me. I could get a bouquet of RIBS! I bought them, and my female dog and I were the two happiest women in West Houston that night! We ate them sitting on the floor. No one, and I mean no one, had more fun than the two of us!

Since then, I've found the love of my life, but I'm convinced that one reason is that I've always tried to make joy. I always sent little old ladies valentines or flowers. I even had champagne and chocolates "teas" on Valentine's Day just for my female friends. And sure enough, what went around came around, and now I have a man who is the best. Love yourself enough to send love to the forgotten and love from the right man will ultimately find you.

— Dixie of Houston, Texas

I believe in my heart when two people come together and raise a family, each day is a Valentine's Day, though each one may not be filled with romance. Before having children and grandchildren, Valentine's Day was a card between my husband and I and maybe a few chocolates if I gave huge hints. After children, Valentine's Day became more about making the day special for the kids, buying stuffed animals, chocolates and, of course, that cute little "I love you" card.

Thirty-three years later, Valentine's Day is going to be about two "empty nesters" trying to discover the romance that was put on a holding pattern. It shouldn't be hard to find—the love, loyalty and dedication to each other has always remained.

— Leanne of Minot, North Dakota

My boyfriend and I have each gone through divorces that were tough on us. We each survived through humor. We are each on a budget as a result of various factors including the economy, each running our own businesses and raising our children (five between us) as newly single parents.

I thought about what I could do that was romantic, from the heart, but didn't blow the budget, and I decided to write him a (somewhat humorous) song and present it on Valentine's Day. I will also attempt to barbecue him a meal since he is teaching me to barbecue. Throw in a candle, and we have a date! He is very special, so I hope he likes it. I am a little nervous, especially since he is the musical one!

— Lisa of North Vancouver, Canada


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