photo credit: glamour.com
It was a cold and frosty night. As midnight came and went, I retired to a guest room in the home of a stranger. I was attending the wedding of my best friend's daughter. It was being held at the ranch of her future in-laws, and the out-of-town guests were given lovely rooms in either the beautiful main house, or one of the guest houses. Each room was generously gifted with a box of Godiva chocolates much like the one above...gold with a big red bow...as a thank you for attending and a reminder of the romance of the occasion.
I had recently committed to a healthy eating plan, and I tried very hard to ignore this beautiful gold box. But I was wide awake, and feeling a little nervous, and missing my friend, and aching for her girls who I knew were missing her too. And the box was whispering my name. So I decided to have just one piece of chocolate.
I carefully slid the red silk ribbon off of the box, wanting to be able to replace it to slow the slide down the slippery slope to a second piece, or even a third. I lifted the top off of the box. There inside, atop the delicate lining paper, was a small red envelope. I'm imagining that it is a promotional offer of some kind, but I'm trying to prolong the gorgeous moment of mouth-watering expectation, so I open the envelope and remove a card.
It says, "Congratulations. You are a first prize winner in the 2004 Godiva Valentine's Day giveaway...a five-day vacation for two at a Westin Hotel in the European city of your choice."
I look at it for a long time. I read the small print. I put the card back in the box, and I replace the ribbon exactly as it was. And then I put the box in my suitcase and zip it closed.
I wake early the next morning. I go downstairs. The bride is up and in the kitchen looking out the window. It had snowed overnight, and she sings Nice Day For A White Wedding in her best Billy Idol voice. I smile.
The wedding is beautiful. I cry. I drink champagne. I talk to grandparents and aunt and friends. And I say nothing. I imagine saying something. Wonder how to word it. But I am sure that if I do, someone who is more accustomed to opening expensive chocolates will smile benignly, and think that the poor little rube is fooled by a publicity ploy...a mass printed check made out to 'your name here' if you will. And I don't want to ruin the memory of the beautiful day with an embarrassing gaffe.
At the end of the day, I drive the sweet little sister of the bride (whose red hair always brings to mind the day I gazed at it first through the hospital nursery window on the day she was born) back to her college dorm near my home. And still I say nothing, because by this time I know that it cannot possibly be real.
When I finally walk in my own house, I greet my husband. Give him a few highlights of the wedding. And seclude myself in my office. I go to the Godiva website and look for information on a giveaway.
And there it is. Grand Prize is a car...a BMW I believe. And one hundred first prizes (or was it fifty?)...five-day vacation for two at a Westin Hotel in the European city of your choice.
It was real. I took my sister. We signed affidavits and releases. We applied for passports. We chose Dublin, Ireland as our destination...land of our ancestors.
I still feel guilt over the fact that I probably should have gifted the trip to the bride and groom, but honestly I had already mentioned it to my sister before I thought of that and I think it would have broken her heart.
And there it is. A Valentine legend that will not be topped in my lifetime.
Happy Valentine's Day to all. And to all a goodnight.
(Oh, and I did get around to telling the bride. She couldn't have been sweeter or more excited for me to take the trip. It is a legend in the retelling of the wedding story for her and her husband too.)