Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday. I love everything about it. Funny cards, mushy cards - every Hallmark moment that puts $3.99 in that conglomerate's pocket, even if the cards are lame and not genuinely funny. I love flowers, all types but carnations. Even the ones sold by the guy under the bridge that just sort of hang there, wilted, unopened buds, in your vase on the kitchen counter. I especially love the only holiday of the year that does not require a running start - no six weeks of shopping, two weeks of cleaning, and three days of cooking performed solely by me for the benefit of everyone else. This day, I can share in. I can receive a token gift, a gesture that says "I love you." A moment of warmth and romance in a world where you often wonder how it all came down to this. I know you're all with me here.
For 25 years, I have wanted the same thing for Valentine's Day. A card and a heart-shaped box of chocolates from a candy store. Actually, the heart shape is negotiable. Roses, jewelry, lingerie, dinner out - nice, but not necessary. Is this hard?
For 25 years, Jim has not been able to pull it off.
We had this conversation last week, so I could give him some guidance and a pep talk coming into the event. I opened with something like, "I know this is impossibly hard for you, but for Valentine's Day, I would like a box of chocolates from Winfrey's." (Winfrey's is our local candy store.) Jim gave me all sorts of assurances. In fact, he was sure I was wrong, and that he had properly delivered the goods on multiple V-Days in the past. I absolutely knew he'd screw up.
I even bought him a card with a woman in bed, reading, while her husband danced in his boxers with a rose in his teeth. It said, "Couldn't you just get me chocolates?"
So Valentine's morning, I came downstairs, and there it was on the counter. A double-decker sized box of chocolates. The Deluxe Whitman Sampler from CVS, on which he had scrawled, "See, I can get it right. Love you."
I didn't say anything when he came downstairs. After a half hour or so, he brought it up. "Are you happy with your chocolates?" "Well, they're not Winfrey's," I said, as delicately as I could. "Winfrey's?" he said. "I thought you said Whitman's." He must have looked all over.
All I can say is my middle son just shook his head, and said, "When Dad asked me if I wanted to go out Valentine's shopping with him, I said no. I went to Winfrey's." And got his girlfriend the heart-shaped box. I've trained him well.