Welcome to Seven Quick Takes! Our host is Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum, and you should go there to check out other quick-takers on the link-up!
This week, there’s a lot of talk about 50 Shades of Grey, the pornographic book-turned-movie that is being released for Valentine’s Day weekend. (Because nothing says true love like abusing a woman, right?) Avoiding this book was hard enough, and now I have to try to avoid the trailers of it. God help me if I have to deal with someone who tells me she’s gone to see it.
Anyway, even though we aren’t big on Valentine’s Day here in our home, here are some things you can do instead of going to see what I can only hope will be the biggest flop of the weekend. And, no, I won’t include Mass and Confession, though one is required of you and the other is always a good idea, because this is about having fun as a couple and not about scolding people.
Watch something truly romantic.
We’re planning on watching Return to Me with our girls this weekend. It’s a sweet movie about real love, and the pain that sometimes happens when you open your heart to someone and trust them with it. It’s apparently rather under-rated, but Bonnie Hunt’s little movie is sweet and refreshing and I have no problem sharing it with my 13 year-old.
If you’re going out to the movies, Old Fashioned is an alternative. It’s even playing in our little corner of the world, and we don’t get a ton of limited-release movies here. Sister Helena Burns has a review of it here, and it honestly looks like something I’d like to see, if I were going to venture out into the world on Valentine’s Day evening.
Make a special dinner at home, and eat by candlelight!
I’m pulling out steaks and baking some sweet potatoes, and, if I can get my act together, making fresh rolls. We could eat by candlelight, but it’ll be a family night for us. I have, on the other hand, been known to feed the kids first, send them to their rooms to read, and had a late dinner with Nathan by candlelight. We call these “in-house dates,” and when we ask for them, the kids always oblige us and give us some alone time.
And dinner doesn’t have to be fancy, either. Just make whatever you like, light a candle, and look at each other. Pretend you’re still dating (if you’re the married type). If you are still dating, making an in-home meal is romantic and intimate and sweet. I remember doing this sometimes way back when I was still just Nathan’s girlfriend, and having dinner alone in his apartment was very swoon-worthy.
Get copies of Romeo and Juliet and act out the balcony scene.
You don’t have to get as hot-and-heavy as the old Olivia Hussey version that scandalized and embarrassed my entire English class in the ninth grade. But I can tell you from experience that having my husband read those classic lines of love and direct them at me made me want to send my kids to bed right at that very moment. And it was 1:00 in the afternoon. No, you don’t have to stand on an ottoman in your living room like I did. You can just have a really good table reading of the scene. Read with gusto. Think lovely thoughts.
Write a love note to each other.
We typically don’t buy Valentines for each other, but we do make them. This tradition started when Nathan called me from work and said that someone had brought in construction paper, stickers, markers, pens, and crayons and set up a Valentine Station for everyone to make cards for their spouses and loved ones. He came home that day with cards for each of us, and I loved them more than any store-bought card he’d ever given me.
Make your own card. Don’t worry about being poetic or using the “right” language. Just tell your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend how much you love them. Loving someone means being open to them, sharing yourself. Two sentences that declare your love, even if written awkwardly, is more precious than the best Hallmark has to offer.
Play a board game.
This is especially good if you have kids. Spend the evening doing something fun and hilarious. We have the best time playing games together, whether it’s Scrabble, Mouse Trap, Cranium’s family games, or Monopoly. It gets us all to put away our phones and iPods and the like and really interact with each other. I don’t know about you, but our family has a great time together when we do things like this. We sometimes laugh so hard, clothing changes must be made. (*ahem*)
Take a hike.
Get outdoors, if it’s not too cold. Go exploring. Take pictures of stuff. Look for wildlife. Admire God’s handiwork. Do something physical and exert yourself a bit. Even in the dead of winter, there are some really beautiful things to see.
Read a book — out loud.
When was the last time you read a book to your kids? Or had a book read to you? I used to read books all the time to my girls, usually selecting something just a bit above their reading level. Nathan and I would both read to them, different books and different styles, and this would often lead the girls to read new things on their own. If you want to stick with the theme of Love for Valentine’s Day, give Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre a shot. Don’t feel hedged in by that, though. Just pick something that might interest your family (or your spouse) and read. You could take turns reading it, too, if that’s your liking. If it was made into a movie, that’s also a great follow-up for this — though I warn you to get ready to be disappointed with the movie. (ha!)
Another option is to pick a play to read. Our family used to do “Weekends with Will,” when we would read Shakespeare’s plays together. With only four of us, it was a challenge — Nathan and I would wind up with 7-8 parts, and the girls would have 2-3 — but it was a lot of fun. (This is how we wound up doing that balcony scene.) The best parts were when we had to read a scene where one person was both parts of a conversation. My very favorite scene was when I played Petruccio to my older daughter’s Kate in Taming of the Shrew. My older daughter is a lot like that Katherine, and we had a great time sparring and yelling at each other across the living room.