from the Piece of Cake mysteries
by Jacklyn Brady
It was a different story when I was a girl though. Back then, Valentine's Day was my favorite day of the entire school year. First came copying down the list of children in our class, a painstaking process. I didn't want to forget anyone, and I certainly didn't want to be forgotten by anyone.
Next came the all-important decision about the Valentines I would give to my classmates. Nothing too mushy, of course. I didn't want to embarrass myself. But I did want the pack to contain one or two special Valentines that I could give to one or two special boys in the class. And, of course, it also needed some particularly unmushy cards for those kids I didn't exactly consider friends. I wouldn't have dreamed of excluding anyone on purpose, but I certainly wan't going to ask that girl with the attitude to "be mine."
Equally important was the theme of the Valentine's pack. I worked hard to make sure I picked a popular cartoon every year, not the generic variety. I can't imagine much that was more embarrassing than giving out the wrong sort of Valentine on such a special day.
Every year I begged Mama to let me include a piece of candy in my Valentines, and every year she told me no. I still don't understand her reasoning. Not giving candy at Valentine's Day can have a serious negative impact on a child's social standing at school. It certainly wasn't because we couldn't afford it. That I could at least try to understand.
All of those things were important, but the actual Valentine's Day box was the ultimate ingredient in the mix. One needed a box that was just the right size. Too small and the other kids would feel sorry for you. Too large and you'd appear greedy.
Decorating the box was serious business. If I was lucky, Mama would get me white and pink tissue paper to wrap the box in and paper doilies and other stickers for decoration. It took hours to get the box just right, and I remember how proud I was of my creative efforts when I took the box to school.
Jacklyn Brady lives on the Gulf Coast and writes the Piece of Cake Mystery series which is set in New Orleans and features cake artist and trained pastry chef, Rita Lucero. The Cakes of Monte Cristo, 6th in the Piece of Cake Mystery Series, is available at your favorite bookseller now!
photo credit: LIFE-PRESERVER via photopin (license)
photo credit: U Go Girl via photopin (license)
photo credit: Valentine's Box courtesy Jacklyn Brady's grandkids.