Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is one of the celebrations that surprised me most when I moved to the US.
Sweet cards, red and pink balloons and heart-shaped chocolates replaced New Year’s cards as early as January 2.
The French send their New Year’s wishes through the whole month of January.
And although the Saint Valentin has also become more commercial in France, the Americans are number one when it comes to the stuffed bears that carry boxes of chocolate and pink heart-shaped balloons that accompany elaborate love cards.
But since my husband remained very French when it comes to les choses de l’amour, the idea of celebrating love and romance on a specific day has always freaked him out.
It was impossible to skip Valentine’s Day entirely when our children were younger. After all, they wrote Valentines to each and every classmate, and came home with backpacks filled with sweet notes, candies and even small stuffed animals. Some parents went really overboard when it came to proclaim love.
But we still managed to keep the celebration as low key as possible, avoiding of all things to have dinner in a restaurant that night. 
“Life with you is Valentine’s Day everyday for me,” says my husband. 
So it was a surprise last night when he offered to take me for breakfast.  On Valentine’s Day.
We didn’t have to worry about our favorite café being crowded. Only a regular customer was there, sipping her daily cappuccino. A woman showed up alone. A jogger stopped by to check which band was playing on Friday night. A couple arrived when we left. Maybe a business meeting. 
It was a quiet and lovely Valentine Day’s breakfast. My pancakes were covered with a trio of berries (one of the pleasures of winter in California) and dusted with powdered sugar. My husband’s eggs Benedict had also a je ne sais quoi more festive and colorful than usual.
Tonight our seventeen-year-old daughter is catching a movie and dinner with her boyfriend. They will exchange small gifts. Love at seventeen needs rituals, but couples that have been together for more than twenty years work hard at avoiding clichés and routine that kill love à petit feu.
Only my younger son will be home for dinner tonight. I’ll make pasta since it’s his favorite dish and a green salad with goat cheese. I will make us crème brûlée for dessert.
In red and white heart-shaped dishes. 
Regular dinner. Nothing special.

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