My dad has always been my most faithful valentine.
He and I share certain challenges with punctuality and housekeeping, which gives me the handy excuse of genetics. He sometimes calls on my birthday to say, “I’ll stick your present in the mail tomorrow” or leaves an envelope under the Christmas tree describing a gift that has yet to arrive.
But when it comes to Valentine’s Day, he is always on time. Every year of my life, I have received a red, heart-shaped box of chocolates. The Russell Stover my sister and I looked forward to as children came wrapped in this fabulous cellophane that turned the whole world red when you looked through it. The invention of the Internet gave Dad instant access to See’s, a serious improvement in chocolate quality if not in packaging.
The card in the box of See’s says the same thing every year, “Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, Dad.” I love the consistency. Some might call it repetitive or unimaginative, but I find it reliable and comforting.
As happens to many chronically single people, my attitude toward Valentine’s Day fluctuates. Some years, such as this one, I get in the spirit and hand out Spiderman pencils at work just for fun. Other years I sequester myself away from the adoring couples whose faces might end up buried in their shared pasta dishes were I allowed out in public. If forced to confront this romantic bliss, single people often recover by watching the beginning of Oliver Twist over and over again, the part filled with misery and endless, dreary, gray days.
During those ill-disposed years especially, the box delivered to my doorstep saves me. Inside awaits a pound of chocolate that speaks of solid, unwavering, male love, not the kind splashed across the store aisles and television ads, but one I know will abide, year after year.
Thanks, Dad. I love you. Many unsuspecting, pasta-sharing lovebirds thank you, too.