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My Valentine

Valentine's Day

I can't say that I get into Valentine's Day. I'm pretty Ebenezer Scroog-ey about the whole thing and have been for most of my life (okay, I know that's another holiday altogether, but the analogy is accurate!).

That said, I have some fond childhood Valentine's memories, thanks to my mother. The highlight of the day was dinner...because we kids knew there would be a treat waiting for us on each of our plates!

In spite of the fact that we knew EXACTLY what we'd find there, every year it was very exciting.

A little background: my parents, married during the Depression, were never well-to-do. Though my father directed site work and construction on a variety of high-profile projects during the course of his career, lucrative pay did not necessarily accompany those jobs. And with a family that eventually included five children, frugality was the rule.

My mother, an excellent seamstress, made most all of our clothing. She was a good cook and knew how to stretch a recipe. Nothing was ever wasted (for example, when opening gifts, we knew never to rip the wrapping paper off of the box...instead, we'd carefully lift the tape, then once removed, fold the paper so it could be re-used later). Gift boxes were saved to be used again and again. And so on.

In that spirit, Mom had a few small, heart-shaped Valentine's boxes stashed away for re-use. (If memory serves, one of them had been made by one of my much older siblings years before.) Filling them with favorite candies like M&Ms, she placed them on our dinner plates, unfolding a napkin to cover each one. We couldn't wait to sit down to dinner, remove the napkins, and excitedly look inside our boxes to see what yummy things were inside and waiting for us to sample when dessert-time rolled around. So simple. Inexpensive. No big surprise...we knew exactly what was coming. And we loved it.

All these years later, I remember those unfolded napkins covering our plates like it was yesterday. A different time. (There's a lot to be said for that simpler, much less materialistic era...but that's a thought for another post.)

Here's to the Valentine who made my childhood such a happy mother, Clarice Metschke.

Clarice Metschke 

Here, my niece (right) and I (left) are helping my mom celebrate her birthday.

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