Monday, February 8, 2016

Candy Holidays

The Forgotten Valentine

When our daughter was in Kindergarten, I was on top of everything -- birthday parties, school projects, fundraising, piano lessons, whatever was thrown my way, I had it covered. With pride, I can say that I still have it all covered. It's my job. But, somehow that year, her first year in school full-time, I missed a big one, a really big one -- Valentine's Day.

On that February 14th morning, just like every other weekday morning, I walked my daughter to school. We were as chipper as could be, skipping down the sidewalk, hand-in-hand, whistling and singing her favorite songs, making up silly stories, with characters that had silly names (like the little girl called "window"), giggling the whole way.

Quickly, that all changed!  As we approached the school's imposing front steps, I stopped suddenly and became alarmed, red-faced alarmed! All the other buttoned-up parents were proudly carrying elaborate Valentine surprises -- colorful home baked treats with delicious swirly icing, hand crafted, sparkling cards, fancy bags of hearts, bright red balloons, and other very involved Valentine paraphernalia.  I had nothing, absolutely nothing -- nada!

Darn pagan holidays, they get me every time! And a candy holiday, at that -- no wonder I forgot.  Do candy holidays even make sense any more? Aside from all that sugar being permantly cemented into our kid's psyche, isn't it also becoming permanently cemented into their beautiful young teeth?

Kids love making tissue paper flowers, a great alternative to candy!

Back to the story...

While my daughter remained chipper, not recognizing all the intricate efforts her classmates (well, their parents mostly) had put into their perfect little creations, I knew that very soon, once the celebration began in the classroom, she, as the only one without anything to give, would be absolutely reduced to tears.  My heart sank. Way to go dad, you'll never live this one down, I thought to myself. Don't panic -- act quickly.

I could have sworn I heard a group of my mom friends whispering "he's usually so much more gentlemanly" when they saw me sprinting out of that school like a demented mad man, nearly knocking over a feeble lady slowly walking with a cane, and then racing across three lanes of oncoming traffic and into the local Duane Reade, hoping to find any remaining Valentine trinkets. Out of breath, I rummaged through the paltry remains of the store's stock.  I found some tattered, flimsy cards, a bag of mostly broken heart shaped lolli-pops, and some pale red(ish) stickers. This will have to do, I thought.

At home, fully aware that the clock was ticking, I tore into my prized and very organized closet of wrapping papers, ribbons and gift boxes.  In seconds, it was spread out all over the bedroom floor. There, found it -- the red ribbon.  20 perfectly professional, frayless mini bows, tirelessly weaved together with the little red treats, and then knotted into each of the cards -- done!

Minutes later, I burst back into the school and soon found myself interrupting what appeared to be a very serious meeting between my daughter's head teacher and some distinctive, earnest education specialists. Luckily, the kids were somewhere else, gym class I think. After pulling herself away from that dour group, the head teacher (reminiscent of the curt, disapproving nuns I had in elementary school) smilelessly asked what was the matter, clearly annoyed. After explaining the Valentine oversight, she (Sister Julianna's tone here) reproachfully expressed reluctance in handing out cards that were not produced by my daughter (as if, I thought to myself). After a few terse words (something about how confusing this may be to my child -- seemingly inferring permanent, lifelong mental scars) she unenthusiastically took the cards.

Phew, I really dodged a bullet this time! I think.

After a highly-anxious rest of the day, I hesitantly approached the school for pick-up. I didn't know how my daughter felt about the Valentines, the ones that she had not made herself. But, those worries were quickly put aside. At dismissal, she burst out of the classroom, jumped into my arms and gave me the biggest, warmest, prize-worthy hug. It seemed that Sister Julianna, I mean her head teacher, had indeed misjudged her. My daughter's friends loved the cards and the treats, but more than that, my, precocious, all-knowing daughter seemed to understand everything that I had been through to make it happen. It was the best "thanks dad" I ever got!

What did I do to deserve such an gem?

Needless to say, I have not forgotten Valentine's Day ever since. We did our Valentine's Day cards this past weekend, and it was a blast. But, every year, I think of the holiday that I forgot, and how I miraculously saved it from disaster.

I am only just now able to talk and write about that day. Crazy -- we get to a certain age and we should know there is no sense laughing about it later, why wait! Laugh now!

Today's photos are some of the creations my little Valentine and I  constructed yesterday.

 Happy Valentine's Day!!

The tissue flower making kits are great fun, you can find them at:

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