It would have been really easy for my mom to forgo little holiday traditions because we were too busy or my dad was not home because of work commitments. I'm grateful she made do and carried on, because the traditions we kept throughout the year (like all things pink for breakfast on V-day, as well as green milk and green clover pancakes on St. Patty's Day, eating out of a pumpkin on Halloween, etc.), the amazing birthday cakes she made herself, as well as the day-to-day details like the notes she and my dad would put in our lunches, the after-school treats, and making breakfast for us every morning are some of my fondest memories. Our home was a happy place, always filled with good food and festive decor. It was the little things that made every single day special.
For those of you in situations similar to my own (especially if your hubby works crazy hours), I know that it's really easy to justify by saying: I'm going to wait until I have a bigger house, more money, wait until my kids are older so that they'll really appreciate my efforts, or until I've had more time to plan an event and "do it right." Make do.
We have a 24" wide table in our tiny galley kitchen. Our space is not ideal for entertaining, not even ideal for serving meals with just the four of us. But we do it anyway. We had our Valentine's date two days early, and had our family Valentine's dinner the night before because we knew Kyle would be home (It was a good thing, too, because he was at work until 4am on Valentine's Day. Nice.). Because of the craziness of the day we only had two small windows to celebrate as a family: 30 minutes to decorate sugar cookies (I froze some from our Valentine's Day play date), and 30 minutes for our Valentine's Day dinner. It wasn't what I had planned, but I'm glad we made the effort.
I used 12x12 paper for place mats, made place cards from matching paper, used our china and our pewter goblets, scattered candy across the table (one of my favorite traditions growing up) and made some age-appropriate place settings for Ella and Jones. It was easy and only took a few minutes of my time, but it made me happy.