The Christmas season is always exciting for kids, but once it's over, the following winter months can be a bit dreary. That's why Stefanie Hewlett, a mother of four, decided to start a new family tradition.
"One January when my children were little—ages 2 to 9—we were all feeling a bit blue with the magic of Christmas over and no holiday to look forward to for a while," she says. "Valentine's Day was never a big celebration for us, just a day for the kids to take valentines to school to hand out to their classmates. I decided that Valentine's Day could be more, and love and service could be our focus."
So Hewlett made "heart stockings" to hang in her house in January and February. But instead of having them filled with candy and toys by a magical character, the kids were to fill each other's stockings with notes of love, handmade valentines, love coupons, etc. They were also to perform acts of service for one another.
"A lot of these things were done secretly, as it was important to me that my kids learned to act without recognition—to serve invisibly when only God sees," she says.
Images courtesy of Stefanie Hewlett
Hewlett's family has been celebrating the heart stockings tradition for 15 years, sharing it with extended family and friends along the way.
"All the cousins have fun sending love notes and valentines to one another to put in their heart stockings. As my kids got to be teenagers and weren't as excited about making valentines for each other, I would still put love notes in their stockings, as well as silly valentines and treats. Happily, that would result in them filling my stocking and their siblings with notes of love and appreciation or performing a kind service for another family member."
To go along with the heart stockings tradition, Hewlett enlisted the help of her sister as well as her friends Candace Rowley, Caroline McCann, and Allison Foulk to write and illustrate a story that families could read together. The book, Heart Stockings: A Valentine Tradition, tells a charming fictionalized story about two children who come up with the idea to brighten up their winter by creating heart stockings and serving other people.
"This is a tradition that promotes family love and unity," says Hewlett. "I hope others will take this tradition and make it their own—tailor it to the needs of their family by praying for inspiration of ways to implement it to encourage service and selflessness and build bonds of love, unity, and appreciation for each family member."
How does your family deal with the post-Christmas blues? Start a new tradition in your home by hanging heart stockings, sending kind notes, and performing secret acts of kindness. Read this charming book together and hang a heart stocking for each member of your family! It’s a fun new Valentine’s tradition your family will love! Available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.
Don't forget to pick up these adorable stockings to go perfectly with the story: