wOw’s Question of the Week

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What’s the best Valentine you have ever received? What’s the best Valentine you have ever given?

Candice Bergen: My daughter makes me something every year for Valentine’s Day. She beaded necklaces, made earrings, and she makes fantastic handmade cards. Also, years ago, she started a little notebook that she would make entries in on holidays or special days for us. She made wonderfully loving, witty entries. And one year when she was 10 or 11, she had a sleep-over on Valentine’s and I made all of them heart-shaped hamburgers and heart-shaped cookies.

My husband is always romantic and generous on Valentine’s Day. This year, we are having a couple over and an ace chef is making dinner for the four of us.

Judith Martin: Whenever I wear my diamond-and-ruby heart brooch, people ask me — with the Aww-isn’t-that-cute expression so often directed at elderly couples — whether it was given to me by my husband, to whom I have been married for 51 years. “I have no idea,” I snap back. “I just happened to find it. On my pillow.”

Joan Ganz Cooney: I feel weird that neither I nor any boyfriend nor any husband I’ve had has paid any attention to Valentine’s Day. I did start sending jelly beans and Valentine’s Day cards to my grandchildren somewhere along the way because it has become such a big deal, thanks to advertising by jewelers, candy makers and greeting cards producers. But it means nothing to me personally.

Julia Reed: The most creative Valentine’s present I think I ever gave was a card onto which I’d pasted tiny identical construction paper hearts that signified the number of different beds the recipient and I had shared together. Ours was a mostly long-distance relationship and we always met in cool places — Dublin, Havana, Key West, London — so they were easy to remember. It was totally romantic, but even then I wasn’t filled with entirely romantic feelings toward this man, and now I pretty much curse the day I ever met him.

I definitely do not curse the day I met my husband, who always gives the best presents ever. (For my birthday one year he gave me four Julia butterflies — one of the rare breeds named after a person — mounted and framed.) This was a pattern established the first Valentine’s Day we spent together, when he showed up at my door with an enormous red box tied with a white satin ribbon. Inside were two cashmere sweaters — a pale grey one and another in charcoal — that were slightly smaller versions of the ones in his own closet that I always commandeered when I, um, “accidentally” woke up in his apartment without a change of clothes. It was a lovely gesture and I still have them — though his over-sized ones remain my favorites. That same night I made him a swell dinner: a filet with an amazing Sauce Medoc from George Perrier’s excellent Le Bec Fin Recipes (it takes forever to make but is so worth it) and my favorite spinach gratin from The River Cafe Cookbook by Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray. I’m including the spinach recipe here because everyone should make it for their Valentine.

Baked Spinach

Serves 6

3 lbs spinach, tough stalks removed

2 eggs

14 ounces heavy cream

4 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Beat the eggs and cream together for a minute in a big bowl. Add the Parmesan, nutmeg, pepper and a little salt.

Blanch the spinach in plenty of boiling water for 1 minute and drain well. Chop roughly and mix well with the egg and cream mixture. Pour into a medium sized baking dish—the mixture should not be less than 1½  inches deep. Place uncovered in top of the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Serve hot. The top should be crisp, while the underneath should still be slightly creamy.

13 comments so far.

  1. avatar Linda Myers says:

    I tend to be a card saver for all holidays, and the best were Valentines Cards the kids made when they were young. Last fall when I was packing my house I opened boxes which were sealed for years. In one, I found a Valentine from my youngest daughter when she was eight. She took a piece of cardboard and glued her school picture to the front and wrote I love you and everything she could think of outlined in wavy lines, etc. This fall I found it again and happened to flip it over which I had not done many years ago. On the back she wrote her name, age and year she gave me the Valentine with a note “when you get old and look at this, now you have my name, age and when I gave it to you, so when you don’t remember that stuff anymore – hopefully you can still read”. Glad I saved it, might need that info some day! Now I watch when the grandkids make their cards – watching their eyes get huge in giving the card and seeing it put on the fridge or cork boards brings back those memories and the magic of Valentines Day.

  2. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    I believe that every day can be a Valentine when you are with someone you love and adore.

      The almost-hidden notes filled with words of love – or teasing – when least expected, my love appearing with an armful of my favorite yellow roses, suggesting dancing in the kitchen to the music of Sinatra, and what has become the piece de resistance in February for now half our married life — a lovely sojourn to our favorite of all places in our country — Carmel and Big Sur in California.  Stunningly beautiful in every direction, we have found every trail, every byway . . . and an afternoon may find up deep on the Big Sur coast, lunching up at tree level at Nepenthe — the restaurant of dreams (that word was that formerly was Rity Hayworth and Orson Welle’s honeymoon cottage) and “our private place” to toast to our wonderful lives together (we met at 17) and our love that I think we could deem “the forever kind”.   Tradition. . and the feeling we have been truly blessed.

  3. avatar Laurie Deer says:

    The best Valentine I ever received was from my sons.  It’s in about grade one or two, when boys are cuddly and really, really love their moms.  The eagerness and love in their eyes as they raced off the bus to give me Valentine cards they made at school.  Now that’s pure love.
    The best Valentine’s I gave was a romantic home cooked meal with candles, music and great food.  The mood was perfect and love was on the menu that night.
    Happy Belated Valentine’s day.
     

  4. avatar Maggie W says:

    For many years, there was an old mom & pop dime store in our area. Long before its time, it was an original dollar store with everything from Halloween steamers to hula hoops to packages of bras. You may remember one from earlier days. There son # 3, age 9, found the most wonderful gift for me; the sticker on back was marked 39 cents. It was a pair of huge , round black plastic clip on earrings with four other interchangeable colorful lobes. He was very proud of such a marvelous deal. And yes, of course, I wore them to every school event. The red lobe had a small bluebonnet, and that was his favorite. They are in one of the memento boxes under the bed, still on the original packaging card.
    One year my husband surprised me with a hot air balloon ride. Absolutely fantastic! I once gave him a hand made saddle blanket from Chile. Most Valentine’s , however, we share a nice bottle of wine on the porch.

  5. avatar Lepidopter Phoenyx says:

    That would have to be the year that my husband (then my boyfriend of a little over a year) paid to have the transmission in my old van rebuilt.

  6. avatar D C says:

    My husband and I got married halfway through college.  We had both reached a point where we couldn’t go on with what we were doing, so we dropped out and got married.  After about 18 months, he went back, on a new course direction, and I worked to pay the bills.  During that time, we were beyond broke.  We had a decent place to live because his parents bought a small condo as an investment and rented to us for next to nothing.  One year I got several sheets of pink paper, and cut out hearts, and then wrote words on each one and then taped them together into sentences declaring undying love.  I taped them across the front door so he couldn’t miss them.  I taped a few more together in strands, and then taped them to the ceiling fan blades, so when he walked into the living room, hearts would be floating above his head.  He thought it was cute… but silly. 

  7. avatar Lonnie Stump says:

    The best Valentine I have ever gotten was this yr., when my twin grandbabies were born!!!

  8. avatar DesireeAlyce says:

    This was the best Valentine’s Day I have ever had!!! I’ve never been a fan of this holiday, for many reasons. When I’ve been in previous relationships or was married Feb. 14  was just another day that had special expectations that never developed. This year was different, and here is why:

    At the age of 54, I have finally found the person I needed to have a good relationship with: MYSELF!  I decided to be my own best Valentine, my own best friend,  Put my needs and wants first and foremost, not just for the day, but for the rest of my life. I owe that to myself, as do we all. It is NOT selfish to care about my Self and all that entails. I am not wallowing in self-pity because I choose to manage my illnesses instead of letting them manage me. I am wallowing in self-acceptance and self-esteem, and loving every blessed moment of it all.

    So what did I do that day that made it so special? I just lived the day being true to myself, and that was the greatest present ever!

  9. avatar Donna H says:

    I have had several very interesting gifts over the years. Years ago, a boyfriend, appalled at my insistence on using public transportation, gave me a switch blade “for protection”.  Another year, a different boyfriend offered to have a particularly troublesome co-workeof mine  killed.
     
    I turned him down, but accepted the tattoo he offered in exchange.  I have a teeny heart with an arrow through it.  Every time I see it, I’m reminded that I am NOT Florence Nightengale & can’t fix “broken” men (that on was an alcoholic, though I tried to “fix” a gambler & a coke addict, too), & too leave the bad boys alone.

    • avatar Donna H says:

      It should be “to leave bad boys alone”…Not enough sleep lately.  I’ve been protesting in Madison.

      • avatar mary burdt says:

        Keep Protesting in Madison Donna.  Your cause is a worthwhile exercise in being an engaged American.

  10. avatar V B says:

    My Dad celebrated Valentines Day by giving chocolate hearts to his daughers and asking us to be his valentine.  It was all him.  He did the shopping, and the presenting, one by one. No one has topped that.

  11. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    I’m extremely sentimental.
     
    I love receiving love letters and cards when in a relationship. And many, many years ago I received a 10 page, single space, hand written letter from a man I loved, outlining all the attributes about me he loved. It was so profound for me because he stated so many aspects that he loved about me that I hated about myself.  He touched on the simple and mundane to the deep and insightful aspects of who I am as a woman, sister, aunt, friend, cousin, niece and daughter.  I was left speechless.
     
    And he ended the letter by saying something about how if our love relationship were to fail, he would until the day he dies feel blessed that he had met me and honored that he had known me.
     
    That was the best Valentine I have ever received. The best one I ever gave was a glass heart to my sweetheart at the time with a note that read “This is my heart ________, it is fragile. It is transparent, what you see is all it is, nothing is hidden. It is delicate, beautiful and now yours. If you break it, it can be put back together but will never be the same. I love you, Bel.
     
    Needless to say I am not with the guy any longer, so I guess my gift was of little importance to him.