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Aren’t holiday traditions grand?

Like leaving Christmas cookies out for Santa, and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve. Santa always stops at the Coyle house because we also leave him a shot of Jack to warm his cockles, whatever those are.

Or dying two dozen Easter Eggs, staging an Easter Egg hunt in the backyard, and recovering only 23 eggs.

Then there is always the bewitching evening of carving Halloween pumpkins at the kitchen table and my annual fear of having to make a trip to the emergency room to reattach a severed finger or two.

Around Chez Coyle, Valentine’s Day is also rich in tradition. Ever since our three girls could say “Balentime’s Day,” my husband would get up before anyone was stirring and put together a breakfast extravaganza. The family party included heart-shaped pancakes, flowers and balloons at every place at the table, the candles lit, See’s candy, and a book. The books were always a classic. I love that man for good reason.

When our oldest daughter went off to college, she said in a wistful voice with a far-off look in her eye, “You know what I’m going to miss most about home?”

My mind raced through a myriad of possibilities.

  1. My warm embrace.
  2. Sleeping in her own bed in her room that looks more like a war zone than an inhabitable space.
  3. My home cooked meals.
  4. Gas money.
  5. Being grounded for two weeks after going to a beer bash.

Nope . . . none of the above. She said (cue far-off look), “Dad’s Valentine’s Day breakfasts.”

Now that the girls are scattered in three different states and because heart-shaped pancakes don’t ship well, my husband sends them a mini-celebration that always includes See’s chocolate hearts and cash.

Last year he started a new Coyle Valentine’s tradition. In addition to candy and money, he issued a challenge.

“Cool beer in cool places . . . take some of this money, buy an interesting beer, and take a photo of yourself drinking the beer in a cool place.  Submit your photographs and I will judge the competition.”

My husband is the only guy I know who can take the day to celebrate love and romance and turn it into a cutthroat competition.

What do the girls make of this? They are all over it. The deadline to enter the contest is next weekend and I’ll post the photos once the battle is over.

I thought you might like to see last year’s entries.

Daughter One: On stage at a comedy club in Los Angeles. No, she isn’t a stand-up comedian but was dating one at the time.

Daughter Two: Snowboarding in Vail. Yes, she is a snowboarder.

Daughter Three: Fishing the Snake River in Boise. Yes, she is an angler. And beer brewer.

Husband: Striking a goofy pose in the backyard of Chez Coyle.

Happy Valentine’s Day folks!