How one family made Valentine's Day about family and kindness

How one family made Valentine's Day about family and kindness



How one family made Valentine's Day about family and kindness


Lisa Thornbury wasn't a fan of Valentine's Day… until her kids showed her what the occasion was really about: kindness.

Lisa Thornbury won't stop until she's the best… her best self, that is. A teacher-turned-freelance writer, the mother of two is known for sharing her day-to-day experiences on Forever In Mom Genes—a blog after the heart of all parents.

While her blog is all about passing on a message of love, February 14—the international day of amore—has never been a big one for Lisa. In fact, she jokes about having had a "cold anti-Valentine's Day heart."

Then her children came along.

More than a little enthusiastic about cupid's day, son Sebastian and daughter Avery slowly got their mother to have a change of heart. Lisa began to embrace the day as an opportunity for her and her kids to "let your love flow by telling your friends and classmates how much you care." As for the "how" of it all, that came wrapped up in an initiative called WE Bake for Change. (Spoiler alert: Recipe for a delicious dessert to come!)

With Lisa's focus on charitable living and her 14-year-old son being an avid baker, it was no surprise when the family banned together for a fundraiser centred around a bake sale to fight food insecurity in WE Villages' partner communities.

More a passionate consumer of her son's delicious treats than a baker herself, Lisa credits her mom for teaching Sebastian the secret to whipping up batches of yumminess. "He wasn't so much, ‘inspired' to bake, as he was desperate for cookies that didn't taste like sawdust," says Lisa. (For the record, little sis Avery acts as the official assistant whenever there's baking to be done.)

Baking is just one constant in Lisa's household. Now an ardent supporter of all-things-Valentine's, she's adding cute traditions to the holiday, such as styling her daughter's hair in heart-shaped braids and serving up ketchup hearts on the kids' dinner plates—along with participating in WE Bake for Change every year.

As February 14 approaches, Lisa gets excited about the prospect of filling bellies across the world and warming hearts with baked goods. What's on the menu for the fundraiser this year? They're called Sweetheart Sweet Tart Raspberry Lemon Loaves —which are tart and zesty cakes coated in pink glaze.

Looking to introduce some heartfelt Valentine's Day traditions to your family? Below, Lisa shares tips for celebrating the occasion as a family—including giving back as one.

1. Skip the commercialization
I'm not a Valentine's Day kind of gal. But any chance to celebrate anything and my kids are all over it. So—since I'm not a monster—I get on board. I like thinking of Valentine's Day as a day to focus on being mindful by spreading the message of kindness, love and inclusion by giving not gifting. Turn giving inward and do something kind for yourself. Then, turn it outward and do something kind for someone else—a friend, a family member or a perfect stranger. Switching the focus from gifting to giving makes Valentine's Day pretty sweet.

2. Encourage the power of kindness and love through everyday moments
I think all kids go through an egocentric stage where everything is about them. It's our job as adults to help kids to move out of that stage—and to see and experience the value in sharing and thinking of others. 

3. Turn your kid's interests into an opportunity to bond as a family
An activity like WE Bake for Change is an example of a fun and meaningful activity that demonstrates how easy it can be to give. This year, we'll be selling the Sweetheart Sweet Tart Raspberry Lemon Loaves in a digital bake sale on Facebook, and we'll donate the proceeds to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The heart connection to Valentine's Day is obvious, but we also have a family connection to heart disease, and whenever we can support the HSF, we do.


Bonus: Sebastian shares his recipe for Sweetheart Sweet Tart Raspberry Lemon Loaves.


  • 1/2 softened butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1-2 lemons (for fresh lemon juice and zest) *can also use bottled fresh juice
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a loaf tin. Toss 3/4 cup of fresh raspberries with 1 tablespoon flour and set aside.

2. Cream white sugar and butter together and beat in the eggs. Add flour and baking powder, mixing well to combine. Stir in the milk and zest from at least one lemon. Fold in the floured raspberries.

3. Spoon into tin and bake for 55 minutes or until golden. (A skewer in the middle of the loaf should come out clean.)

4. Prick all over with a skewer and cool for 10 minutes.

5. Mash the remaining 1/4 cup raspberries with lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl. Push through a sieve, mashing with the back of the spoon to strain out the seeds. Spoon the thin raspberry glaze over the warm loaf.

6. Cool completely in the tin before turning out.

7. Optional: Decorate with more raspberries.



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How one family made Valentine's Day about family and kindness