I fondly remember the days when Valentine’s Day meant dressing up in something snazzy (red or pink, your choice), going to work for the day, and if you were lucky, being taken out to a fancy dinner by some hunky guy you were dating. What happened to those days?
Now, Valentine’s Day has turned into a month-long marathon of hard work. It’s inching up on Christmas, in the race for the most labor-intensive holiday of the year.
When I woke up at the crack of dawn on Monday morning (even earlier than usual to ensure that all the last-minute Valentine’s Day preparations were complete) and my kids wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day, I could barely respond. Valentine’s Day, I don’t want to hear that four-letter word for another year.
It started at least a month ago, shopping for cards for my friends (if you are a friend reading this post and did not get a card, my sincerest apologies. Maybe next year). You have to start your shopping early, or all the choice cards sell out. And since they start merchandising the stores for this mid-February holiday, the day after Christmas, I was already behind, by mid-January, in my pursuit for the perfect cards.
Simultaneously, the kids and I were online shopping for their cards to bring to school. We spent hours (not my idea, but theirs) scouring various websites looking for acceptable choices. They couldn’t be too small or too large. They couldn't have ridiculous themes or graphics. They had to be just right, like Goldilocks's porridge. Hallmark ended up the winner this year, although once the coveted box arrived on our doorstep and was opened, there seemed to be apparent disappointment over their choices. Better luck next year, my little Goldilocks.
Lest you think cards are enough these days, think again. Last Thursday night, I went to no less than eight stores, in search of “just right” cellophane bags, to hold the cards and the accompanying heart-shaped chocolate candies for their classmates. Here was my circuit: Dollar Tree, CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Micheals, Joanne’s, Homegoods, Party City, and then back to Dollar Tree again, where I finally settled on plain bags (with no hearts) out of pure desperation and exhaustion. Everyone else was sold out, which came as no surprise to me, the ultimate planner and early shopper.
Last Friday, the assembly line of cards, candy, bags, etc, began, turning my kitchen table into a veritable Valentine’s day factory, for the entire weekend. There was much moaning and groaning to be done along the way, but none louder than my own.
Lest you think it was over with the assembly line of cards and candy, think again. The kids wanted some “extra gifts” to give their good friends and teachers. I naively suggested homemade cookies. On Friday afternoon, before they arrived home, I printed out four recipes I found online that sounded good. I thought they would choose one. They chose all four. So on Saturday, after gardening for three hours in the morning, I spent the rest of the day (never managing to get in a shower) helping them make the four different recipes. On Sunday we packed those 100 cookies into decorative bags, tied them with red and pink ribbon for distribution to friends, neighbors, and teachers.
By Monday morning, I was exhausted from it all. I never wanted to see another heart, much less anything red or pink, again. I persevered nonetheless, as it was Valentine’s Day. I spent the morning setting our festive table and then shortly thereafter, tried to forget about the holiday altogether by happily immersing myself in tedious and boring work at my desk, just to escape any thoughts of Valentine’s Day.
By the afternoon, I had perked up a bit and was ready to rally. The kids came home from school and were so excited to see the table filled with candy and hearts everywhere. My dear friend, Anne, came over to celebrate with us. Not only did she treat us to dinner (so I didn’t have to cook), but also brought dessert and helped the kids with all their homework, to give me a break. Now that’s true love.
Not only were we working on Valentine's day bags, but also gift bags for Miles' upcoming birthday on 2/22/22.
Catherine and I had to run to the market to find buy last minute provisions for our cookies. Bristol Farms was bursting at the seams with the most gorgeous selection of flowers just waiting to be scooped up.
The cookie factory in full swing.
Breakfast on Valentine's day consisted of none other than a freshly baked loaf of the kid's favorite banana nut bread.
A small glimpse at "the loot" the kids brought home from school. Clearly I wasn't the only suffering mother in this process.
Our celebratory table.
Pretty in pink....
Anne, so sweetly, reading to the kids.
Miles and I snuck off to the our upper hillside at sunset where I got this wonderful shot of him with the full moon appearing in the background.
The day ended with delicious Chinese take-out, cookies from Bristol Farms, plenty of chocolate, and beautiful homemade cards for me, from the kids.
Now I need to start resting up for next year....