My baby jus’ wrote me a letter…
Every year as Valentine’s Day approaches, I embark on finding the perfect setting to create an atmosphere of intimate romance for our table for two. And since love is not something to be celebrated only one day a year, I decided to indulge in some fun this past Saturday.
I have been searching the internet for inspiration and was rewarded most serendipitously! Most of the tablespaces presented for Valentine’s Day focus on the color red and hearts. I wasn’t interested in purchasing “heart” plates and I’m not a huge fan of red, but one place setting of an older pattern from Mikasa caught my eye. It was a little more subtle in its pattern but sadly, the pattern was no longer available. Mr. Smith and I had previously used Replacements, Ltd. when we broke some dinner plates, so I hopped onto their website in hopes they might have some pieces. One click led to another and then – there they were! The sweetest little salad plates covered in script writing and named Love Letter. As I entered my credit card information for the purchase, my dinner theme wrote itself.
Mr. Smith and I collaborated on the menu for Saturday night and agreed to keep it pretty simple. The main attraction would be New York Times Cooking Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Madeira Wine Sauce accompanied by Wegman’s Potatoes Gratin Rosemary & Thyme (so easy and so yummy), green beans with raspberry clafoutis for dessert. Saturday morning, I made the clafoutis. If you haven’t made one before, I highly recommend giving it a try. This French light and custardy baked dessert is simple and has never disappointed. With our dessert prepared, my meal prep responsibilities were pretty much complete which gave me time to focus on setting the table.
In addition to purchasing the new small plates, I ordered a couple of glass bead chargers from Etsy. I usually try to work with what I have on hand but was really in the mood to add a bit of sparkle. Plus, the chargers can do double duty as platters on a buffet table. Lots of candles, some beautiful spray roses and a little surprise held back to add at the last minute.
With Chris Botti’s album When I Fall in Love adding to the ambiance, Mr. Smith outdid himself in preparing the filets and sauce. The mushrooms, shallots and wine combined into an exquisite sauce for our delicious filets. Mr. Smith’s choice of a tasty Bordeaux was the perfect complement our dinner.
Back to that little surprise I added to our table setting just before we sat down to dinner. Little stacks of handwritten letters tied together with a ribbon. I have saved letters that Mr. Smith has written to me over the years, the oldest ones from the month after we married in 1978 when he went on a camping trip in Canada with his father. All the letters were written before email and text became a way of life, when either he was traveling for work or we were in the middle of a geographic move, a literal timeline of our life together. He had no idea that I had saved them.
After we cleared the dinner plates, I poured us each another glass of wine and sat and sipped while I listened to my husband of 43 years read each and every one aloud to me. The letters are very dear to me. The thought that went into them, the time it took to write them and the journey they took to arrive, sometimes crossing the Atlantic Ocean. I wonder if when I am gone my children will go through my box of treasured memories examining them to get a fuller picture of their parents, or if they will consider them my memories and nothing they need to see.
Either way, I hope that one day they will share with my grandchildren and greatgrandchildren that Mr. Smith wrote me letters that I treasured enough to save for decades. Maybe they will be inspired to write a letter or two of their own.
C’est la vie.