On special days (really . . . almost every day of my life!) I am surrounded by memories of special days that have come and gone. That happens when you are a mama and your babies have grown up. I suppose it happens to everyone, but since I’m a mama with grown-up babies, that’s the only perspective I can have. The world has changed a great deal since my now grown-up babies were little, and that’s a good thing in many ways. But there are times when I wish we could freeze time in one place, for one moment, when life seemed perfect. But we can’t do that and so all we are left with are the memories. Today I am remembering some of the fun times, when my older children were young, when we would make Valentine’s Day cards for their friends at school, and we would bake pretty cookies, and decorate the house with hearts cut out of construction paper with white paper doilies glued on them.
Childish handwriting scrawled “I love you, mom and dad” across the front of the handmade cards, and sometimes the glitter would stick to my sweater, to my hands, to my cheeks and lips as I pressed those tiny works of art to my heart and offered a tearful “I love you, too” in response. Back in those days we had a front porch with windows all around where we would press those old fashioned “cling on” plastic hearts and flowers and cherubs with bows and arrows to every window so that the neighbors walking by could see our beautiful handiwork. I was once even introduced to a new friend in town as “The Lady with the Pretty Porch.” We had fun together on Valentine’s Day!
The cooking and baking extravaganza rivaled the Christmas baking traditions, with heart shaped sugar cookies in various sizes, all decorated with pink and white frosting and red crystal sugar, silver candy balls, and confetti sprinkles. Then we would package them up on a pretty paper plate so the kids could take a few to school for a gift for teacher, and we would deliver them to our friends in the neighborhood. Of course the cookies didn’t always turn out to be perfectly shaped like hearts, and the frosting frequently slid off the side of a cookie, and there just might be way too many confetti sprinkles on one side . . . . and no silver candy balls on another one because someone decided they looked way too yummy to just leave there on a cookie. Especially one that was going to be given to someone else!
This time of year I always remember the apron. The Apron. I actually still have it, but it has been stained with food coloring and magic marker where someone wrote their name in rather large, lopsided letters when I wasn’t looking. I made that apron myself from some leftover fabric that I had in my little sewing room back then. It is made from a striped seersucker fabric with red, navy blue, light blue, yellow, and white stripes. It has two big pockets on the front and it is almost like a large tunic worn backwards with ties in the back. I wore that apron for all of our cooking adventures, from baking bread to cooking supper to making Red Cake for every birthday. And Christmas cookies, Valentine’s Day cookies, Easter cookies, and Thanksgiving dinner. The Apron is now folded neatly away in a kitchen drawer because I don’t cook as much as I used to. I kind of miss that ol’ apron!
But the best part I think was spending hours on Valentine’s Day cards for school. First we had to go to the local dime store on Main Street to pick out just the perfect box of cards. Not too “babyish” and not too “mushy,” but maybe funny or goofy or silly. And then coming home to the big table in the middle of the kitchen and laying them all out, one by one, and with the help of the list of classmates provided by each teacher, we would decide on the perfect card for each of the other children in class. The work began!
Writing “To” and “From” on each tiny card and envelope took up an entire afternoon and evening, until it was time for supper at that big table in the middle of the kitchen. But once all of the Valentine’s Day cards were neatly tucked inside the school bag, all was well with the world for one more day. I do miss those days, but today is another day and it is, once again, Valentine’s Day! This morning there was a text from my sweet Hubby that just said, “Happy VD!” Hmmmm . . . . I suppose VD could stand for a variety of thing, but in this case it meant “Happy Valentine’s Day” so I’ll take it. And my girls reminded me at breakfast, “Hey Mom! It’s Valentine’s Day! Can we go out for dinner???”
No more little Valentine’s Day cards with “I love you, Mommy!” scrawled across the front in childish handwriting but rather a sweet reminder of all the love that God has allowed me to experience in my life as a wife, mom, and now a grandma. Too bad those Littles live so far away or I just might pull out The Apron and bake some cookies with them and make a few construction paper heart cards. I think we will to out for dinner this weekend, all four of us and remember that Valentine’s Days might change over the years, but it will always be a day, just like every other day of the year, when we can tells our loved ones just how very much they are LOVED! I hope you are having a special Valentine’s Day and that you remember you, too, are LOVED!