What's the best Valentine's Day you have ever had? Honestly, I think mine was spent seated at a card table, in a slightly dusty Church Hall lit by tea lights, surrounded by small boys....
When the Scouts announced they were looking for anew fundraiser that year, all the usual suggestions were mumbled over and then thrown out the window. The boys wanted something big, something bold...and the leaders offered them Valentine's Day.They tell me everyone, um, loved the idea from the start. I'm not sure if I believe that. Really? A dozen almost teenagers asked to cook and serve a special Valentine's day meal for their parents? A show stopping feast in a pop up restaurant, with entertainment to follow? That's a tall order.
But if there were rumbles of dissent, I didn't hear about them. In fact, The Tall One (who just about fitted into his uniform) seemed to think he could do it. And his dad and I started to look forward to a night out. Truth ne told, we hadn't had a nice Valentine's evening together in years. babysitters were hard to get hold of and we had a little girl who really didn't like to be left with anyone. It was easier to stay home and eat our way through a big pile of Marks & Spencer pink heart jellybeans, with two children sitting between us. But that little girl could hardly object to this plan: the beauty of the Scouts Big Valentine Project was that they had thought of everything. They had considered Being Prepared and then taken it to a whole new level. For this invitation included babysitting. The Scout Leader's wife just happened (oh, happy day) to be The Small One (for she was small back then)'s Sunday School teacher; and she and her daughter were to run a creche. "Yes, I'll go," said The Small One. "There'll probably be colouring in. And project sheets."
And it was a triumph! We got there early, all dressed up, and The Small One was scooped up and settled down, and her brother headed to the kitchen, apron in hand. We were ushered into the hall: softly lit, it was, warm and welcoming, and with some of the most charming waiters you could imagine waiting to take our order. We sat at our little card table and we talked to each other and relaxed in the candle light; and the boys brought us our meal: three courses, all carefully considered by one keen Assistant Scout Leader and enthusiastic amateur chef. It was all perfect - napkins, flowers, table gift - you name it, those Scouts had covered it all. They cooked it, they cleaned it up and then they got up on the stage and entertained us; and all the time The Small One coloured and snacked and had as fine a Valentines Night as she could have wished for in the company of her big brother and his friends. It was a huge success. We all paid handsomely, those "suggested donation" envelopes were full, for it was worth every penny.
And the best bit? They did it all again the year after. Oh, yes: it's true. Valentine's Day hasn't been the same round here ...since our boy got too big for the Scouts.
If you have something planned for today, I hope it's lovely. And if you have a great Valentines Day story..of course, I'd love to hear it. Happy Valentine's Day!