26: Finding New Valentines

26: Finding New Valentines

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Finding New Valentines

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

~C.S. Lewis

“Ahhh, February 14th, the day you will learn to hate.” My friend, Debbie, guided me through a tough separation and divorce, and then led the way through my first year of being single again.

“Should we make plans together?” I asked her.

“Do you really want to go out to dinner on a night when every couple in the world is renewing their love?”

“No, but I don’t really want to sit home alone and feel sorry for myself either.”

My brain churned. I had my own home now that offered a formal dining area with six matching chairs. I remembered Grandma’s hand-me-down china, never-used cloth napkins, and stemware packed away in boxes. If Debbie hated the day so much, did others? I knew a lot of single females.

I selected five vivacious women, collected their addresses, and created elegant invitations.

Planning a menu suited to lighter tastes, I determined this would be no meat and potatoes night. Different colored cloths and lace draped the table, topped with a playful centerpiece of feather boas and candles.

My mother, recalling her first Valentine’s Day as a widow, supported my excitement by purchasing a single long-stemmed red rose for each of my friends to take home from the evening. I tied them with ribbons and placed one at each setting of the table.

The ladies dressed up as requested, and came through my front door with smiles, saying, “I’ve looked forward to this all week,” and, “Oh, how beautiful!” at the festive décor.

I introduced them by offering a small explanation of how I knew each, and then left them to mingle with one another. Once dinner was ready, the women were seated; dinner was served in courses.

The meal started with small appetizer plates, clear broth, and a salad of mixed greens. The easy-to-prepare main course of Turkey en Croute appeared impressive, the sides of roasted asparagus and candied carrots well received.

A lovely dessert wine had chilled all afternoon and accompanied a serving tray of fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries, and petit fours sprinkled with red and pink sugar for our finish.

With coffee, we played a slumber-party-type game with abandon, laughing and joking as we shared our experiences of first kisses, worst dates, and our hopes for the future.

Our evening ended with affirmations of one another and blessings. And everyone agreed — we had just experienced the best Valentine’s Day ever.

~Cynthia Mendenhall

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