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Valentine’s Day

Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

With one kid in college and the other in middle school, Valentine’s Day isn’t what was just a couple of years ago. Back when Stella and Noah were small, it was much more of a production. A few days before Valentine’s Day the three of us would head out to the store and pick up a lame box of cheap cards for them to hand out to classmates. Then the evening before their school party, we’d spend dreaded hours sitting around the kitchen table while they scrawled friend’s names on them and signed each one.

Stella got much more excited about the preparations than Noah ever did. I think there were a few times that he was so bored and distracted with the entire task, I became impatient and forged his signature on most of his Valentines. When the cards were finally signed, we’d tape a sumptuous piece of candy to each one (because of course, my kids wanted to be the very best Valentine in the whole wide world and candy is the best way to accomplish that fete). Then when Stella and Noah got home the next day after school, we’d dump their Valentine loot out on the table and sift through flimsy cards, chocolate, and lollipops they had gotten from friends and chat about their parties

Valentine’s Day when I was a kid was much the same – except the Valentine cards were probably a lot better quality back then. We still made snazzy boxes for our cards, handed them out to friends (except for maybe a few stinky boys like Jeff Rosenthal or Larry Tangen), and had a class party complete with cupcakes and punch. The only difference is that I don’t ever remember handing out candy to my classmates. And the only candy I remember getting at school was that repulsive chalk heart-shaped candy that some crafty kid glued to their Valentines that had nifty phrases like “BE GOOD” or “ASK ME” stamped on them in pink lettering. Nope. There was no real candy. None until my dad walked through the kitchen door that evening…

It was quite predictable that on Valentine’s Day, my dad would be a half hour late getting home from work (after a stop at the local drug store to purchase a well thought-out card and gift). And when he arrived home, he was always carrying the traditional oversized envelope and red heart-shaped box adorned with a plastic rose for my mom

We’d all gather around while my mom opened her card, pretending that we were entranced in my dad’s display of love and affection for my mom. But what we were really waiting for was my mom to finally crack that red heart box open and show us the booty.

Slowly and carefully, she’d remove the seal then lift the lid of the candy box proclaiming, “Oh my.  This looks delicious!”  And after dinner (the longest dinners of our young lives were typically Valentine’s Day dinners) we were each allowed to select one piece of candy for dessert. Sometimes we’d score with truffle or caramel, but most of the time, we’d end up with a clunker like a chocolate-covered jelly or a cherry that began oozing sticky liquid the moment we bit into it.

After we each took our piece and amid the choas of our griping and complaining, my mom would  replace the corrugated paper lining and close red box lid. Then she’d take the beautiful heart over to a cabinet in the dining room and leave it there for all of us to walk past yearningly, dozens of times a day.

It never failed. Over the next few days we kids would walk by the box, lift the lid nonchalantly and say to ourselves, “She’ll never miss one piece of candy.” And with four kids (all born with zero willpower), the act would repeat itself numerous times a day therefore it didn’t take long to whittle the heart down to a few half-eaten raisin candies, a leaking fruit-and-nut, and jellies that had been poked by a curious finger or two (it wasn’t me…). By the time my mom got around to peeking inside of the box again it was slim pickin’s. Fortunately for her, we always steered away from the loathsome chocolate-covered nuts too (which happened to be her favorite) so she was usually able to scavenge through the remaining chocolate rubble to find a piece for herself.

What I will never understand why she never figured out what I did many years ago. If you want anything yummy for yourself, you needed to stow it away in a secret hiding place. Like a steel triple-walled fireproof safe. That’s where all of the good stuff goes in my house – chips, candy, Welch’s Fruit Snacks (I can’t get enough of those things…). Then again, maybe knowing how chocolate-deprived were were in the 60’s and 70’s my mom left that heart out intentionally for us out of pity. Maybe it was her way of giving us a delicious treat we rarely had the chance to enjoy.

Do you have any memories of Valentine’s Day growing up that stand out in your mind? Did you or do your kids hand out candy to friends at school? Do you have a food stash hidden somewhere in your house that only YOU know about?  Did you have more self-control that we did as a kid?

Please comment!

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