• jtbelangela

A Day for Love

Christmas Day has finally arrived! Well, Christmas Day for me anyway. I wait for Valentine’s Day the way a child waits for Christmas. I love the sentiment, the sappy movies, the fancy greeting cards, the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate in every store. Sometimes I wonder how I got this way, but if I stop to think about it, I already know.

My grandfather looked like he stepped out of an old Hollywood movie--classy, well dressed, and brutally handsome with sparkling green eyes and face that could have been in pictures. You couldn’t think of my grandfather, however, without thinking of the person he loved the most--my grandmother.

Every year my grandfather would give my grandmother a box of chocolates. I know that sounds simple, but my grandfather never heard of the word simple. This was no box of candy picked up at the drugstore, this was a work of art. Back in the day in our Bronx neighborhood, there were several sweet shops that went all out on February 14th. I can picture my grandfather in the store as the sun streamed through the window reflecting off the glass cases, looking as handsome as ever in his sport coat, unlit pipe in his mouth as he paced the black and white marble floor scanning the selections.

I couldn’t wait to go to my grandparents’ house on Valentine’s Day to see what my grandmother received, and each year I was not disappointed. The boxes of candy were always huge and they were gorgeous. Sumptuous, red satin heart-shaped boxes; some classic and elegant and some edged in delicate white lace or other attractive trim. Some years the boxes were adorned with delicate pink silk roses, other times they boasted satin sashes stamped with sweet sentiments. I remember staring at the box sitting on the coffee table completely enamored with its beauty as well what the gift symbolized. I’m sure that’s where my affection for this holiday was born.

When I finally got around to lifting the lid, my heart fluttered. I can still hear the crinkle of the paper honeycomb layer covering the treasure trove inside as I removed it. Each delectable chocolate was bursting with a sweet secret inside lined up in the box like little soldiers in their brown paper cups. Which one to choose? They were all there: smooth, round creams, odd-shaped crunchy, nut clusters, tropical coconut bites, buttery caramels, and gold-foil wrapped chocolates with squishy cherry centers. They were all mouth-watering, but I always hunted for the rarest gems of them all--those that were soft pink, pale green or butter yellow having been covered in white chocolate/fondant deliciousness.

To some people, it might have been a simple box of candy, but not to me--and not to my grandfather. He did everything with class and everything was a grand gesture. Like those hand-made stunning silk candy boxes and my grandfather, they don’t make them like that anymore. They had a love story fit for a Hallmark movie; perhaps I’ll write it one day. Until then, every night as I pass through my dining room to turn off the light on the sideboard, I say goodnight to them as I gaze at a black and white photo from their wedding. My grandmother is beaming in her dress and my grandfather is as handsome as ever in his Navy uniform. He’s twirling her on the dance floor like there wasn’t another person in the whole world but her. Yes, that’s definitely where I got it from.

Here’s to love.

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