My dad did not like a sentimental or romantic gesture. If he was feeling very fond of you he might rub or gently sock your shoulder in passing. He exuded strong feeling, but didn’t show it directly. Until as a very old man, after his stroke, he’d applaud when one of his children entered the room. That was a gratifying, if mysterious, change.
My mother liked holidays. She’d been raised in her father’s candy business and was fond of Halloween and of course Valentine’s Day. She gave us all elaborate pop-up cards. It was from the combination of my parents that I think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday more of friendship than of romantic love in any of its many guises.
And right now my household is focused more on our favorite shared holiday–Mardi Gras! Strange for two secular Jews, but there it is. We’ve been to Mardi Gras in cold environs–Red River and Cloudcroft (NOLA in our separate youths). We usually dance with the Hillstompers bar crawl. But not this year. This Mardi Gras is all about streaming live jazz concerts and trying to find Cajun-like takeout. And–later this week–go in search of the alleged Mardi Gras house right here in Santa Fe. (More later!).
One year, though, my father brought us all hothouse bouquets of violets. They were like corsages, with enticing hat pins in the stems. And they smelled extraordinary. What happened? Did he pass a florist shop and think of his children? Did my mother nag? I’ll never know.