A year after this now-married couple met in mid-February, they decided to turn their Valentine’s Day celebration into a tradition of 14 days of fun and appreciation for the whole family.
It’s hard to dream up a more romantic time to start dating than Valentine’s Day, but that’s exactly when Laura-Marie Small kicked off her relationship with her now husband, Chris Small, in the early 2000s. “Our first Valentine’s Day was filled with lots of chocolate and hearts and all those delicious things you want to share with a person when you first start dating,” Laura-Marie says. “And I think that the romance of meeting someone around Valentine’s Day is sweet within itself.”
Fast forward a year later, when Laura-Marie decided that their special day—Valentine’s Day—didn’t have to be a single event, so she made it a 14-day affair. “I started the tradition of ‘14 days of love’ by giving Chris a card every day of February until Valentine’s Day,” Laura-Marie says. From there, their tradition evolved.
One year, Laura-Marie compiled excerpts of love letters she and Chris had sent over the years. Another year, they challenged themselves to adventurous activities, such as rock climbing, to get outside their comfort zones.
When they welcomed kids into their family—the Wakefield, Mass.-based family is now rounded out with two school-aged boys—Laura-Marie and Chris decided to include them in the tradition. “When our children came along, we thought, ‘What does 14 days of love look like as a family?’” Laura-Marie recalls. “It’s turned into small family activities—like waking up in the morning to a puzzle that everyone has to solve together to reveal a message.”
Another year, Laura-Marie gave special tokens to her boys that entitled them to their choice of activities, such as making a dessert together or watching a favorite movie. “We pick things we aren’t normally doing, especially as life gets busier and we have less time to spend together,” Laura-Marie says.
As an art teacher, Laura-Marie enjoys tapping into her creative side to keep the holiday tradition interesting. “I like making it a ‘homemade holiday,’” she says. “It’s about rolling up your sleeves, getting out the glitter and glue sticks, and turning Valentine’s Day into enjoyable little projects.”
Laura-Marie typically takes the helm for Valentine’s Day celebrations, as she sees it as something sweet she can give her family. “I keep doing 14 days of love because it’s a perfect time to celebrate Chris and all he’s done for our family,” Laura-Marie says. But she is on the gift-receiving end, too—one of Laura-Marie’s favorite Valentine’s Day gifts was a surprise from Chris: the boys’ handprints pressed into modeling clay.
Or the time when Chris put together a basket filled with spa products, like an eye mask, essential oils, and lotions. “It would be easy for him to get a gift card to a spa, but making a spa in a basket was really endearing,” Laura-Marie says.