A seasonal offering.
Many years ago, not long after we were married, we decided to have a party on Valentine’s Day. Not because of Saint Valentine but for my husband’s birthday. It was Saturday 14th February and his birthday was the next day.
In those days I still felt that you had to provide food as well as drink and peanuts at a party, (how times have changed!) So, with two small children round my feet, I embarked on a day of shopping, chopping, cooking, preparing, arranging. Salads. Quiches. Pates. All home made. Stuffed eggs. Star shaped radishes. The works. I loved doing it. But I did think I was going to get some adult help.
But Jacek had something to do quickly in the workshop. Of course. Ok. Help me later. Of course, of course. Later came and went. Whirring sawing drilling buzzing silence. Still no help was forthcoming. I was getting more resentful by the minute. Time is getting short and the first guest is about to arrive. Glasses to lay out. Wine to open. Phones to answer.
My mother arrives. Early. As expected. Closely followed by my stepfather and real father. I am now resentful and irritated. But still smiling. Through gritted teeth.
I give them all a drink and get them to start carrying food etc upstairs.
Where’s the ‘solenizant ‘ – the birthday boy? I am by now getting that never again feeling. In my mind I am selecting what to put in my largest suitcase and how I am going to break it to the children when in bursts my radiant husband, covered in dust and red paint and bearing the enormous wooden heart he has been making all day. Wreathed in smiles, entirely unapologetic for not helping one iota, he waves it in front of me and says I cannot touch it yet because it’s wet. What could I do? I melted. Further guests arrived and we had a lovely party.
Yesterday was st Valentine’s Day again. An annual event. Sometimes I get flowers. Sometimes a handmade card. Yesterday? I got home from work, utterly exhausted after a long and fairly frustrating day in the library. All the kids excited about their evening and asking me about my plans. I said I was hoping for a surprise. Thinking maybe a flower or some champagne. But I got home to find Jacek cooking leftover salmon and drinking some leftover wine. He offered me his glass to finish.
I admit. I was disappointed. After forty years. Nothing.
And then I went upstairs to change my shoes. I heard a sound coming from the living room. Whirring away on the new three d printer which he had bought this week was a red heart shaped object. With my initial in the middle.
I came downstairs but I didn’t say anything. Neither did he. Half an hour later he went upstairs and returned with the same radiant smile as all those years ago. Another perfect heart melting surprise!