The night before Valentine’s Day the stars aligned and everyone was home for dinner. I love these nights. Now that everyone goes in different directions with various activities, it doesn’t happen as often as I would like it to. The kids were all abuzz talking about the valentines they had made and plans for school for the next day. One strand of conversation led to the other, as it often does at our table for 6, and Jason and I found ourselves being asked about our past Valentine’s Days together. We had a few good stories for the kids and they listened intently with broad smiles on their faces, hanging on our every description, their minds trying to imagine us as in our younger days.
We told them a few good stories of past Valentine’s Days, most of which they had heard before. Like the time we borrowed a car (neither of us had a car in college) and spent the afternoon in a beautiful local park and went to dinner at an Italian place that we really couldn’t afford. We laughed retelling the story because it wasn’t an expensive or fancy place by any means, but we were both broke and it was a stretch at the time. We were just thrilled to be out and away from campus alone together.
We truly thought we were all that and a bag of chips. And we were.
It was a great, innocent and lovely day.
We then shared our favorite story – the one they knew was coming. The special valentine that lasted for months and was shared with the entire campus. Jason decided to leave me a large valentine message that I would see first thing in the morning when I opened the shades. He wrote with flour in very large letters “I (heart) YOU KEL” on the lawn in front of the dorm.
It was sweet. It was cute. It was large. It made me smile and my heart swell. It radiated in the sunlight!
And then, the next day…it rained.
And the flour turned to paste and did not wash away as Jason had planned.
In fact, it stayed for a very long time. It eventually killed the grass, leaving a lasting valentine message that was burned into the lush lawn for all to see. I am sure the groundskeepers who took meticulous care of our beautiful campus were not amused. Nor likely were the other students who woke up to see my message every morning until spring bore new life and the grass finally grew. But it is a great story and we laugh ourselves silly every time we tell it.
We especially laughed this time because for whatever reason, the kids thought it was supremely hilarious. They have heard the story before but for some reason it was funnier that Valentine’s eve (perhaps it was the extra Fun-Dip I allowed them to have after school). As things go, one funny story resulted in another funny story and on and on it went. Eventually they were done giggling at our stories and had moved on to telling jokes. They were having a ball, just laughing and being silly, making up names for each other and being ridiculous. They were so enjoying each other that they didn’t notice that Jason and I were totally removed from their conversation and giggles. I had gotten up from the table and started the dishes and Jason joined me at the sink.
Jason and I listened to them having fun in their own world at the table. We looked at each other and smiled knowingly. The stories we shared with them were funny to be sure. But they were also somehow magical in that they held all the promises of our youth and the innocence of young, true love.
All the walking down memory lane that night was a treat, as it always is. But standing at the sink and watching our kids laugh and talk with each other was a true gift. A moment to be savored.
In those few minutes it all came together for me – sharing the promises of the past with the gifts and joys of our present and future was a true blessing.
And I do believe that made it the best Valentine’s Day yet.