The table decoration, the pink and purple cross leaning on the candelabra and creating a fire hazard, was a craft Allyson had made in preschool that day. "It was so fun. We rubbed the glue all over with our infects finger," she explained.
After dinner, I brought out three cards and a little treat for each of my Valentines:
- For Ethan, a 3 Musketeers truffle bar, because he had bought one just the day before and then shared it with me and Allyson.
- For Allyson, a cute little bear holding a red heart; she promptly named it Brown Bear.
- For Bill, a big box of Junior Mints. "How did you know I liked these?" he asked. "Oh, was it because I finished off the box you got from Gentle?"
Not to worry... Bill disappeared momentarily and returned with a card. At first glance, I could see that he'd written a full paragraph inside. My hands trembled as I read the words. He said he'd struggled to find the perfect gift. "No chocolates. 'I'm off sweets'," he wrote. "No flowers. 'Waste of money.' [For the record, I'm not that much of a scrooge.].... So I decided to give you something you'd really want: my next overtime check to put in your grain mill fund."
At that, tears filled my eyes. It may not sound so romantic, but I love it that he knows me so well. He knows how much I want to start grinding my own wheat, which he thinks is just a bit crazy. What he didn't know is how impatient I've been. Instead of budgeting for it--since it's not a priority for both of us--I've been putting aside any leftover money at the end of each pay period. The problem with that is there's hardly ever any extra money!
And he also didn't know how hard it was for me to take $20 of that money to buy the Valentines cards and treats. I had to ask God to forgive me for my stinginess, and to help me to give with a joyful heart. And what happened next? I got over one hundred dollars to put back into the fund. How awesome is that?
We ended our evening with a nice snuggle on the couch after the kids were in bed. Under the shelter of his arm, thinking back over past Valentines celebrations, I realized that my definition of romance has changed. I'll take a family dinner any day over an intimate restaurant meal. And I don't need lots of flowery words, either. "Take my overtime check," sounds an awful lot like, "I love you more than I can put into words."
In other Valentine news, Allyson was ecstatic over her first school Valentines party. Due to health regulations, we had to bring packaged apple slices instead of home-made pink frosted cupcakes, but she did get to bring the shoe box she and Daddy had decorated to hold her Valentines.
Along with the eight butterfly Valentines she'd laboriously filled out, she also brought a card she'd made in Sunday school for her favorite person in the world right now: her teacher, Mrs. Robin.
I have to admit that I felt a tiny stab of disappointment when I eagerly opened her freshly made card on Sunday, only to find that it was addressed to a woman she met just six weeks ago. But then I realized that if it hadn't said, "Mrs. Robin," it certainly would have said "Daddy," instead, and that would have stung too. Worse yet, it might have said "Turner," the name we hear half a dozen times a day. (The funniest thing she said about this little imp in her preschool class was: "Today I told Turner that Daddy said, 'Stop talking about Turner all the time!'")
|"You Love I... Mrs. Robin"|
The Valentine wasn't the only thing she brought for Mrs. Robin. Before a trip to the grocery store the week before, she'd asked for $5 from her piggy bank (the same bank she once scaled a quilt rack to reach). "I want to get a present for Miss Robin," she said.
I shook five crumpled ones out of the tiny hole at the bottom of the ceramic pig. "I don't know if we'll find anything, sweetie," I warned. "We're going to Sprout's Farmer's Market this time, not the big Walmart."
About halfway through our shopping, she spotted a display of aromatherapy candles in ten different colors and scents. After sniffing every variety, she settled on a yellow honey-scented votive, but then she put it back after we'd picked out our meats. She agonized for a few more minutes, during which time I was mostly patient, and then she picked out the honey candle after all. (It's uncanny how much her shopping style resembles mine.)
"I'll have to give you another dollar plus some change for the tax," I told her as we finally made our way to the checkout.
"Shh!!" she hissed, ducking under the end of the conveyor belt. "Give me the money before the lady sees me!" she said in a stage whisper. The woman behind us in line laughed, but luckily Allyson didn't hear her; this was serious business.
I handed her a dollar and two quarters, which she deposited into her pink beaded purse, a gift from her grandma. After I'd completed my transaction, she proudly handed the clerk the candle and her $6.50.
"Would you like a bag?" the lady asked. I started to tell her we always use our own cloth bags, but I bit my tongue. Allyson nodded vigorously. "And do you want your receipt?"
"Thank you, and have a nice day," the woman said.
Allyson beamed. "It's a present for my teacher," she said. "We're having a Valentines party."
"Let's go," I said, pushing the cart out of the way for the next shopper.
"We're bringing apples," Allyson went on. I grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the line. "And Valentines cards," she called over her shoulder. "There are nine kids in my class, but only two boys. There's Turner and Ava and Sofia and..."
"Come on, baby," I said.
"Goodbye," the clerk said. "Have fun at your party."
And she did. We heard all about it at our candlelight dinner.
|Allyson Holding one of her Valentines on the Big Morning|
|Her Valentines Bow|