by Dani

People always ask “What is your favorite holiday?” Everyone has a different answer. I usually answer Thanksgiving. I pick it because I enjoy the build up before Christmas (as opposed to the let down that is January), the start of a new season, the sun shiny, not too cool weather we always called “football game” weather. I like that it is time to redecorate and that it’s my birthday. I like the smell of wood fires, the crunch of the fallen leaves, canned cranberry sauce and Stove Top. But I also love Valentine’s day.

I’m not a big chocolate junkie, but there’s not much better than that shiny red box filled with chocolate creams. One of my favorite childhood memories is of my dad giving us girls each a box of Russell Stover’s every Valentine’s. Mom got the big heart and my sister and I graduated from the small to the medium sized hearts. Part of my affection for the holiday was the candy, the other part was that Valentine’s Day is the only holiday that my father remembers to celebrate. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, your birthday, anniversary… all will pass without mention. “you’re turning 13, 16, 21, 30? Really?  Ah, it’s not important to me.” But you put a shiny heart filled with sugar in front of a Type II Diabetic, and my friend, now you’ve got yourself a HOLIDAY!

Papa can still be counted on every February for candy and cards. I love the candy, but what I love more are the cards. He isn’t much of a reader. Without benefit of a formal education and receiving the limited amount he did in another language, reading comprehension isn’t a strength. Yet he never fails to get me a great card. They are always inappropriate and always heartfelt. I can say with as much certainty as I can say  that I DID NOT win the Powerball jackpot today, he has never actually read a card prior to purchase.

Last week Dad went to the store and returned with three heart shaped boxes of chocolates and three Valentine’s cards. The whole lot went into the fridge for safekeeping.  The kids and I had polished off the candy by dinner, but I showed some restraint and held off on the cards to give to them from him tomorrow morning. Tonight I snuck a quick peek at my card. I cracked it open to hear it belt out Billy Joel’s “You’re Always a Woman.”  Tomorrow I will find this signed as I’m sure most dad’s sign the cards they give to their daughters, “Sincerely, First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name.”