Valentine’s Day. The day of love. The day of chocolate. The day of unmet expectations. Such a treasure of a holiday. Occasionally, I am good at making this a special day for my family. I’ll usually try to make some kind of fancy dinner using my finest pink-and-red floral tablecloths and mismatched silverware.
One year, I hand-shaped homemade meatballs into little hearts – which literally took forever – only to discover that once they were cooked and coated in marinara sauce, they just looked like regular old meatballs, and no one gave a rip. Another year, I made a heart-shaped pepperoni pizza and used a cookie cutter to cut Jell-O Jigglers into little hearts.
I know what you’re thinking: How do you manage to keep things so classy, Julia? All I can say is please don’t be intimidated by my homemaking prowess. There was one time that my Jell-O Jigglers didn’t set up at all, and I had to improvise by adding whipped cream and turning the whole thing into a delicate mousse that I then decanted into matching crystal goblets and served with a light drizzle of fresh fruit compote and a garnish of mint leaves.
We’re all in different places along our journey. As much as I like to make a special meal on Valentine’s Day, you won’t be finding any of the usual heart-shaped and pink-and-red fare on our table tonight.
That’s because precisely at 6 o’clock sharp, the Dittos are having a Super Bowl party. Yes, you read that correctly: We are watching the Super Bowl the day after the actual Super Bowl – with most of us (hopefully) not even knowing who won.
“Why would you do such a thing?” you ask as you spoon some delicate Jell-O mousse into your mouth. Our Sundays are usually set apart from other days and full of family, rest and worship. Adding a raucous Super Bowl into the mix just isn’t something we choose to do.
Now, just like Weight Watchers, I’m not saying that avoiding a sabbath Super Bowl is something we’ll do forever, and I have nothing against the gazillions of other people who watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. Potato, potahto, Jell-O, gelato.
However, for my football-loving husband and (some) kids, not watching the Super Bowl at all is simply not an option. And so, about six years ago, Logan came up with the idea of having a Super Bowl party the day after the Super Bowl complete with family, friends and a table filled with party snacks more numerous than the sands of the sea.
Everyone who attends tries to avoid finding out who won, which has proven to be an amusing challenge over the years. As my kids trickle home from school the day after the Super Bowl, my first question is, “So, do you know who won?”
Those who overheard someone talking about it on the bus or who couldn’t avoid the classroom rehash of the game will hang their heads in defeat and utter a dejected, “Yes.” They are sworn to secrecy on the spot. Despite my best efforts, I find out early in the day, as I am an avid reader of the news, and the score is all over the headlines as soon as I open the paper or go online.
Logan, however, has somehow created a protective bubble around himself, often going through a full day of work with no one spilling the beans. His co-workers usually know his Super Bowl plan and won’t bring it up, so unless a rogue patient mentions the final score, he is the only man in America completely in the dark.
There have been years that all of us have known the outcome except for Logan, and it’s deliciously fun to watch him agonize over dropped passes and cruel interceptions knowing that his team is going to pull out a win in the last 30 seconds of the game.
So, as you’re enjoying your prime rib and heart-shaped red velvet cake tonight, think of me, choking down chicken wings and yelling at a TV screen. I guess I could do worse than having my Valentine’s Day taken over by the Super Bowl: I could be standing in the kitchen hand-forming a million heart-shaped meatballs.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.