Friday, February 27, 2009

Pass the paper doilies

On the eve of school Valentine's Day parties everywhere, both my daughters informed me that they needed Valentine boxes the next day. I smiled. I was cursing under my breath, though. 

Being a responsible parent, I knew this was coming. Every year there are Valentine's Day parties. I know this. I know they will need a shoe box, covered in red paper and doily hearts with a slot in the top for Hannah Montana and Scooby Doo cards. But I'd forgotten. And now I was tired, it was late, and I did not want to spend the evening making Valentine's Day boxes. 

I remember making my own boxes in Elementary school. My mother (a saint) had sat at the table with me for hours, cutting hearts, glueing paper, and sprinkling glitter. Hadn't she? Unlike me, she'd never cursed under her breath. No, she brought out the construction paper and old cards and stickers and smiled. She'd been patient. And loving. At least, I remember her being patient and loving. And smiling. 

I thought about it, though, as I measured fabric and cut it and had my girls glue it on their boxes. As I showed my daughters how to fold a piece of paper, cut, and open it to reveal a perfectly shaped heart, I realized that I have no idea if my mother had actually enjoyed making Valentine's boxes with me. I only know that every year, she did. 

And suddenly, I was very happy to be making boxes with my smiling, loving, girls. It's just that next year, let's start earlier. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate + Love

When I was first married, I heard my father-in-law complain to his wife about the half eaten chocolates she’d left in their pleated wrappers in the box. He was very annoyed. Convinced that my new husband shared the same pet peeve, I vowed not to make the same mistake. So when we received a box of chocolates as a gift, I ate the entire piece. Well, pieces. Strawberry crème filled. Caramel pecan. Dark Chocolate truffle. I savored them, knowing that he would be glad I hadn’t bitten them in half, leaving my teeth marks in the chocolate and making the crème filled centers dry out. Yes, I was proud of myself—until he came home.

            “What have you done?” he asked me. “You’re supposed to just eat half a piece and leave the other half for me. That way, we can both try all the flavors in the box!” He was very annoyed. Sometimes in love and chocolate, you just can’t win.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Fun Run

Our Junior High had an annual "Fun Run." I don't know if those two words belong in the same sentence. But I married into a family of runners. They have a family Turkey Trot before Thanksgiving. They are the kind of people who believe that running is fun. Really fun. So of course, they loved the Fun Run.

It was bound to come up. And one year it did: 
"How did you do in the Fun Run, DeAnn?" 
"Fun Run?" (This was a stall tactic). 
"The Junior High Fun Run, how did you do?"
Pause. More pause. Followed by a sheepish grin.
"You didn't run in the Fun Run?" This was said loudly as to attract the attention of the entire family, including my husband who might not have married me had he known this bit of information.
More sheepish grinning. Followed by, "I can't believe it: DeAnn didn't run in the Fun Run! Everybody ran in the Fun Run. Didn't you have to run in the Fun Run?"
The Fun Run, I explained, was optional. 
"You never ran in the Fun Run?" 
See, The Fun Run was an annual event. Three years of Jr. high, and not a single "Fun Run" for me. The sheepish grin had become more of wince.
My husband joined the questioning. "What did you do during the Fun Run, if you weren't running in it?"
"Well, it was simple," I explained. "Every year, there was an option. You could either run in the Fun Run or you could go to the library." (I think at this point my husband might have hit his hand against his forehead). "And not just the school library, either. You got to go to the public library. The city library that smelled of dusty books and glass cleaner. And it was the middle of the day, so it was empty. Even the big leather chairs next to the map collection. The chairs that had big metal rivets along the seams, the ones that were always taken. Even those chairs were empty during the Fun Run." I shrugged. "See, I loved the Fun Run, too. Every year. Oh, how I loved it."