When I visited my Granny on Valentine's Day, I remember she would always display her red cardboard box of chocolates proudly on the kitchen table. I would sidle up to it, excited to participate in a holiday that celebrates candy. Unlike Forrest Gump though, I always knew what piece I was going to get. In the center of the box always sat a solid chunk of milk chocolate molded into the form of a little messenger carrying a box of chocolate. Some pieces may have been missing from their spots surrounding the messenger man, but Granny saved him for me every year. I only recently came to understand the significance of this gesture.

I asked my dad if he had any Valentine's Day memories that I wasn't aware of. He said he just remembers that every year without fail my grandfather would bring a red heart-shaped box of chocolates to Granny. He said he anticipated the day for weeks in advance because it was the only time of year when they had store bought candy in the house. He said that there was one piece of chocolate that he just absolutely had to have: the little, solid chocolate piece in the middle. In those days it came wrapped in a separate piece of cellophane, so he knew it had to be special. He would grab that piece of chocolate and run with it as soon as the box was opened, though I am sure if he had had any patience at all, Granny would have saved it for him.

Another thing Daddy told me is that Valentine's Day is his parent's wedding anniversary.  I have asked Granny about how she and Walt met, but I don't think I even considered asking about their wedding. She never talked about it, and no one seems to know where it happened. My dad said he knows that they went with their friends, Brad and Dale Richardson, and they got married together, probably finding a justice of the peace or a minister nearby to perform a small, informal ceremony. (Dale is a girl by the way.) While I wish so much I could ask her right now what happened on that Valentines day in 1935, I appreciate that the wedding wasn't a huge to-do. Maybe that is where I get my aversion to big 'traditional' weddings.

While my Granny saved the solid chocolate piece for me, I suppose I have my dad to thank for those as well. After my grandfather died, my dad continued the tradition of bringing a red cardboard box full of Valentine chocolates to her. I remember, while I was around at least, he would bring her one without fail. I think the gesture is important, as now I understand it was not just for celebrating chocolate, but  because there is a deep seated tradition that displays love to people important to him.

"Nothing fancy, just a red cardboard box filled with chocolates," he instructed over the phone as I stood, somewhat agitated, in the aisle that seemed to have vomited red sparkly and plush things out into the floor of the Rite Aid earlier today. He asked me to pick up a box for Shirleen on my way home because he had company and was unable to go himself. But it was obviously important that he have some for her on February 14. I think for him, Valentine's Day isn't just a ridiculous commercialized 'holiday' as I believed prior to writing this post. So, consider the people in your life that you love and make sure they know it, start/continue a tradition that can be passed on throughout generations.

Happy Valentine's Day!