By Danielle French

Happy Valentine’s Day

I confess, I’m not much for Valentine’s Day. Despite my better instincts, I always set my expectations too high – expectations of special things happening – flowers, dinner out, or a surprise dinner in. Expectations are usually about what we hope will happen and sometimes, when we expect our significant other to be a mind reader, we set ourselves up for disappointment; hopes are dashed and then we only have ourselves to be angry with.

Over the years, I’ve come to have a different perspective on this day. I now think of Valentine’s Day as a day of love – for anyone – and an opportunity to do something special, no strings attached, and definitely, no expectations whatsoever. For me, it’s about expressing how I feel to my children, my partner Shawn, a friend, or my parents. Simple as that. And the way I express love is by making them something good to eat.

Shawn is not a believer in the one-day-a-year approach. He says every day is Valentine’s Day, but I’m not so sure about that. I think we do have to step outside of our routine every once in a while and actually think about doing something special for those we love. I remember the first year Shawn and I were dating, when Valentine’s Day came around, once again, expectation reared its demanding little head. When he forgot all about it – not a flower, not a heart-shaped box of crumby chocolates, nothing! – I’m embarrassed to admit that I was disappointed and grumpy. I felt silly about my dashed hopes and grumpy disappointment; I was hoping for some romantic gesture from him, but from his perspective, he does nice things all the time, and his feelings of love are expressed in a number of ways: building something that he thinks I need, or moving some earth around with the tractor to make way for a garden or a structure.

Whatever you do today – share dinner with someone you love, stay home and listen to music with glass of wine in hand and read a book or watch a show. Enjoy the day and appreciate those around you. Here is a cocktail recipe to start off the evening.

Blackberry Orange Champagne Cocktail

Muddle 3 blackberries in a cocktail glass with ¼ tsp (1 mL) sugar and 1 ounce of orange liqueur such as Cointreau. Top with chilled sparkling white wine. Garnish with a strip of orange rind.

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