Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day, friends! Today I wanted to share a fun (and slightly myterious!) Valentine’s Day family tradition with you:
Every year of my life (and long before I was born), my sister, cousins, and I always received a sweet but mysterious Valentine in the mail, signed with a question mark. Who was this mystery Valentine from every year?! Over time, of course, we figured out that our amazing grandparents in Ohio were the ones behind our question mark mystery Valentines, and we looked forward to receiving it in the mail each year, even throughout our college years and our twenties! This simple but fun family tradition was at least three decades long, and it’s something that’s impacted me so much, especially since my grandma passed away… and the continuation of our mystery Valentines with her passing.
However, last year, I decided to take matters into my own hands and continue my grandparents’ tradition with our whole extended family. But I had to be extra careful so no one would know it was coming from us in Raleigh (we live literally all over the country!). I made Valentines for each member of my mom’s side of the family, had Rob write all of the question marks and the addresses (so no one would recognize my very recognizable handwriting), mailed a large packages of envelopes to my aunt (on the other side of our family) in Ohio (who lives right by where my grandparents used to live), and had my aunt pop those mysterious Valentines into the mail in Ohio.
Over the next week, it was SO fun to see my parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins receive their Valentines, simply annotated with a ?. Group texts were flying, and no one could quite figure out where they came from. I may have fibbed a time or two when asked if I sent them, but the keeping up the suspense and wonder was really special and fun — and a way to honor our incredible grandparents, the little and big family traditions they instilled in us, and the legacy they created in our family.
Several months later, at our big family reunion, I couldn’t keep a straight face any longer and divulged the Valentine’s Day card plan to everyone, including how we managed to keep the surprise intact. This year, though it’s no longer a mystery who is sending those question mark Valentines anymore, I had the honor of carrying on my grandparents’ Valentine’s Day tradition by again mailing out Valentines to our whole family, signed with a question mark.
I am forever grateful for such loving, wise grandparents who created such a legacy of love, celebration, and family values in all of us, and it is such a privilege to carry on so many of the traditions they passed down to us!