Written by: Natalie Fieleke
More than 12 years ago, I freed my then fiancé from the obligation of celebrating Valentine’s Day. And today it still feels good. Don’t get me wrong. We love to love. But years ago we agreed that we would honor our life together on our own terms. We have our own special day to celebrate and he spontaneously brings home flowers on the regular. In addition, I am free to purchase and consume delicious chocolate whenever. So liberating, right?!
But with the kids, Valentine’s day is a little bit of a different story. Winter is HARD, and I try to use V-day as an opportunity to add a pop of color and fun in our home when the outdoor landscape is otherwise pretty bleak. Our tradition is to invite a few school friends over for a party where the kids take part in a scavenger hunt to find, decorate and (of course) eat their sugar cookie treat.
Great idea, mom of the year. Or a recipe for disaster?
One year, I baked homemade sugar cookies shaped as hearts, lips, X’s and O’s. I hid the cookies and most of the decorating supplies in the oven on a tray. I hid heart-shaped clues (Like these. Or these) all over the house directing the girls to their special treat. In the meantime, I completely spaced out and heated my oven to 350 to bake something else.
As the little girls rushed squealing all over in frantic pursuit of their sugary reward, I began to smell a strange odor wafting through the house. It was the fragrance of burning plastic melting all over the cookies. The scavenger hunt was nearing the end and their prize was destroyed. I frantically called my husband and asked him to rush home and pick up whatever sugar cookies and frosting he could find on his way. He arrived after the anti-climactic scavenger hunt and saved the day. Not the best cookies ever, but coated with pink icing and sprinkles, not a child complained.
This year, we will continue our tradition of hosting a sweet scavenger hunt with friends. We’ll probably make some homemade heart-shaped pizza with our daughter, who wants to own a pizza shop someday. And we will hide paper hearts for our kids and they will beg to find them again and again. Because even better than plasticized cookies, our reward is the fun memories we’ve made together.
Natalie Fieleke is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Lee’s Summit with her husband and two kids. She appreciates cooking and eating food of all kinds from kale salad to KC barbecue burnt end nachos. Thus she also loves fitness classes.