As wonderful as this may have been for me I now realize that my presence surely marked the end to those long romantic evenings enjoyed in the Grill with Jojo, sappy cards, and bourbon and soda on the rocks. Although before me there was Teetee and Oohooh, my grandmother's widowed sisters, who spent every holiday with us, so perhaps they were responsible for the zap to romantic candlelight and Glenn Miller. As it was, my Valentine's Day, after the requisite class party, was dinner for five, cocktails for four, chocolate for me and love all around.
The day before Mimi and I made the heart shaped cake. Always chocolate with either pink or red frosting and an inscription that became progressively more legible as the years wore on, it was the only time all year the heart shaped cake pans were dug out from the far corners of the baking cabinet to the left of the stove.
Each year the girls and I make our own heart shaped cake, the pans rescued years ago from the estate sale that followed Mimi and Bopaw's move to the retirement community. The annual baking requires they be dug out now from the disorganized and overflowing baking cabinet over the stove. It's Mimi's chocolate mayo cake recipe, the only cake recipe I don't consistently ruin. It's delicious, illegible and lovely.
Valentine's Day is now four at the table, this year doing homework and opening cards while toasting ourselves over sushi, edamame and eventually, chocolate mayo cake. It's not necessary, a holiday to remind me how much I love these people, but we certainly enjoy the excuse to dig out the cake pans.
First cake, 1981, the second, 2011.