A red lace paper heart was placed on each of the six dinner plates to hold the pink cupcakes my son made (from a box). Even though I have only boys in this house, and a couple of them are “getting too old for this kind of thing,” I always make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.
There is always a trip to the grocery store that very afternoon to buy fresh strawberries (which counts as one of the 5-a-day fruits and vegetables), asparagus (the boys do like that), and something simple like salted fried pork chops. The Valentine I buy for the boys is void of cupids and arrows; because I know the real key to a man’s heart involves Skittles and M&Ms.
By the time my husband came home for dinner, the little boys were already pumped from all the sugar they had already eaten at their class Valentine party. (When did Valentine’s turn into Halloween — as in every kid Valentine has a piece of candy attached?)
There may have been lighted candles at the table, but the boys were being anything but calm and serene. Every single bodily function noise you can imagine was hurled across the dinner table. Over the cacophony of their own laughter, I almost raised my voice to tell everyone to be quiet and have some respect — but just before I opened my mouth, I looked across the table and saw my husband laughing right along with them.
So, this is Valentine’s Day. This is Valentine’s Day Dinner with the men who mean more to me than anything else in the world. In three years, one of these boys, the 15-year-old, will surely be missing from this table. But they’re all here right now. Suddenly, the whole point of the day began to make sense. We were going out later, without the kids, so I decided to just enjoy this Valentine moment for what it was.
When I hold you, I embrace everything that matters to me.