I remember the days when we were dating. My boyfriend (later fiancé) was coming to pick me up to go out to dinner. I worked to pick out just the right outfit for the occasion, makeup on, perfume on…. all the preparation. After we were married, we still had the option to go out on a date whenever we wanted though getting ready had changed a bit. There is a different anticipation for date night when my guy had no need to knock on the door and wait for me to open it.
Enter the time of children. Date night can be a real chore and the practicality of it can make you second guess actually going anywhere. Making sure there is a meal for the kids, picking up the sitter, taking her home, the cost. One year I was really looking forward to Valentines because I knew that if we weren’t able to go out any other week, this would be different. I started calling around to get a babysitter. It turns out that Valentines Day is a popular holiday and babysitters are scarce.
I was so disappointed that I couldn’t find a babysitter so that I could go on date night with my husband. The practical side of me reasoned that not going out on a date was actually easier in the long run but still, I wished for a special evening. I started to doubt my husband. Other husbands plan out special date nights and work months ahead (or so it seemed) to make sure that Valentines was special. So now I was starting to get mad at him, for no reason at all. I was working myself up with my own unmet expectations and assumed the worst of my husband. Clinging to the Word, I knew I needed to take my thoughts captive and reset my attitude. When I recognize this in myself, I know that I need to pair my attitude with actions or I will continue to struggle.
A year or two before this Valentines Day, we had the opportunity to go to Hawaii. So as I was whining to myself, I was wishing we could celebrate like that again. I had visions of a warm Hawaiian holiday in my mind’s eye. That’s when I realized that I could make a Hawaiian celebration at home. I went to the library (before the digital years) and checked out books on Hawaii, a Hawaiian music CD and a video of Hawaiian Hula dance. I made a “ticket” for my husband that told him to be home by 6. To pique his interest and let him know that it really was special, the paper was decorated like a Hawaiian cruise ticket. It also stated that he was to bring a coconut cream pie on the voyage. (Dessert was taken care of now!)
The children and I set up a Hawaiian destination with all the fixings. We decorated the dining room with Tiki, hibiscus, and hula cut outs. I had a dress from our actual trip to Hawaii that I slipped into and the kids donned their swimsuits… just for fun, I pumped up the house heat so the kids felt like it was a bit tropical.
Through the years we have added to our tradition of “Hawaii Night”. I keep a box in the attic with grass skirts, leis, plastic pineapple shaped cups, a box of paper umbrellas for our beverages and a coconut-lime candle. We have experimented with different Hawaiian foods (and we laugh that some of our foods aren’t actually authentic… like the Hawaiian Punch) and that gives me the freedom to change it up depending on how much time I have to prepare each year. The decorations don’t last forever and need to be replaced from time to time. Since we celebrate “Hawaii night” on Valentines Day, I stock up on any needed decor during the summer while the dollar stores have their beach theme available.
Some of the things we have incorporated in our evening are:Hula demos, Surfing contests (on our seating bench), Limbo contests. Cutting up a fresh pineapple, cracking open a fresh coconut , Watching a movie loosely related to Island life (sometimes its educational and sometimes just for fun)
For us, this has become our Valentine’s Day tradition. Even our children that are grown and live on their own, often come for dinner on Hawaii Night! I imagine that as they all marry and become parents, we will be throwing this party for all the grandchildren while their parents go out to dinner! You don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day, there is no better time than now to create a truly memorable “date night”. When you can, dress up and go out. But when things just don’t line up for a private date night, celebrate your whole family, they will not soon forget it!
“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”(Nehemiah 8:10)