It’s February, the month we find ourselves knee-deep in chocolate. My favorite is the assorted box.
As a kid, my dad once surprised my mother with a three-foot wide box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. It had been a particularly bad January. A house full of head lice and a depleted supply of Tab had sent her to the sofa with a terminal headache.
Enter: Russell Stover.
Never had my siblings and I felt my father’s love so acutely as when we watched my mother unwrap that whopper. The sheer number of chocolates made us pine for marriage.
Mom chose a dainty lump with nuts. We shuddered. Wasting your first pick on a nutter. We knew the prize: Pink Taffy. Later, at midnight, we pillaged, carefully pressing our thumbs into the back of each virgin chocolate. There were sacrifices, of course. The Peanut Chew, Cherry Cordial, Maple Nut, Caramel Fudge. Afterwards, we flipped them back and fled, leaving the violated crew for our mother to deal with.
Looking back, it wasn’t the Pink Taffy we craved. It was the mystery. Even a disgusting Apricot Cream can give you a little lift when your thumb punches through.
Today, I can’t resist buying a big heart-shaped box for my husband. I get the one that’s frilly, golden-boxed, and red-ribbon topped. The suspense builds inside me as I pay for it and skip outside, unwrapping it in the parking lot. I inhale and press the back of a dark chocolate oval.
Texas is a community property state. Who am I to let the mystery be?
Cate Berry is a children’s book author and mother of two based in Austin, Texas.