I often giggle at my best friend's penchant for snow globes, and only recently have I learned that she also has a thing for the Infant of Prague, which accounts for the collection she has in her guest room -- and she's not even a Roman Catholic, but that's too long a story to detail here. The point is that upon reflection I recently realized that without initially realizing it, I too collect.
I don't have many, but the ones I have are sufficiently special that I remember how i came by them. The hand-made, heart-shaped one is from Karachi Michael gave me. When I visited Oaxaca for a friend's wedding anniversary I bought a handcrafted oval raffia box from a street vendor.
For my 50th birthday my daughter Hannah made a suede-covered jewelry box for me. It has compartments and is silk-lined and one of the few things I never pack in a box when I move; I put it on the back seat of the car. Hannah once worked for a small company that hand-crafted calendars, notepaper, holiday ornaments and boxes. She applied skills learned there to this wonderful gift.
Even before that, she made 21 Victorian-style Christmas tree ornaments on the eve of her 21st birthday to celebrate the 21 years we had been mother and daughter. The plain cardboard box that holds them travels in the car with the jewelry box.
For my 60th birthday, Susan, a dear Dallas friend, covered every surface of a box, inside and out, top to bottom, with a collage comprised of hundreds of representations of every facet of my life in Texas up to that point -- favorite restaurants, quotes, favorite foods, vacations, photocopied photographs -- everything that had to do with anything related to my life and work in the Lone Star state. It was (is) amazing. I use it to store photographs that have yet to make it into an album (feel free to complete the phrase: "...and never will").
When I moved form Texas to Colorado and back to Texas again, Susan's box moved in its own box on the back seat, next to the jewelry box in which I pack the heart on top of the photographs.
Now comes a new and wonderful box. Remember the Infant of Prague friend, the one I've know for multiple decades? She took the cover from her edition of my Molly Ivins book and decoupaged it onto a metal box, covering it top to bottom with the dust jacket and flaps. Rose didn't just laboriously cut and arrange pieces to fit; she then filled the box with hand-made truffles dusted with cocoa powder.
When I shared the contents at a dinner party for six, I graciously set out a bowl of Clementines and a small dessert plate of 12 of the truffles on a bed of Marcona almonds. Guests who thought I had been clever enough to launch my own marketing strategy to further promote the book. asked where they could buy one. It too will have a place on the back seat should I get crazy enough to move again.
I can see it now: state trooper pulls me over, looks in the back seat and says "what's in the boxes?"
And I'll say, "Love."
So remember -- Feb. 14 isn't necessarily about romance, fancy meals, flowers and chocolate: its real value rests in the joy borne of having a special person care enough to do something super-special for you.
Have a nice Valentine's Day.