My father, brothers, and I, quietly clambered out of bed so as not to awaken Mother. Without saying a word, each of us began our assigned tasks. I scrambled eggs while my older brother fried bacon. My younger brother rushed outside where the roses were blooming, selecting the best one to place on the Mother’s Day breakfast-in-bed tray.
Pop made two pieces of toast and spread orange marmalade over them, sprinkling chocolate shavings on top like they were cake decorations. There was a kind of joy in how he did it as if for a moment he was happily absorbed with a feeling of love that played in his subtle smile and soft gaze. Then we noticed it—the large box of chocolates on the kitchen countertop. Chocolates were such a rare treat in our house that we stopped what we were doing momentarily and stared at the box, drooling in anticipation.
“This is your mom’s box of chocolates,” Pop reminded us.
We nodded, knowing the chocolates were Mother’s and part of our Mother’s Day tradition.
I scooped the eggs onto a plate, added the bacon and toast, and laid the rose adjacent to the Mother’s Day cards we’d each made her. We tiptoed into the bedroom; Pop placed a gentle kiss on Mother’s forehead. “Good morning, Nini Pooh!”
“Happy Mother’s Day!” we exclaimed.
She opened her eyes and yawned. “What’s all this?” she asked, pretending to be surprised.
“Breakfast in bed!”
“Oh! I can see that,” Mother said, propping herself up with pillows. Pop situated the tray across her lap, placing the huge box of chocolates next to her. We kids climbed in bed on either side of her, patiently watching her read her cards and eat her breakfast, each hoping to be the one chosen to open the box and nab the first piece.
Eventually, Mother wiped her face with her napkin and then picked up the box of chocolates. We held our breaths, wondering who’d open the box of chocolates this year. “Here,” she said handing me the box.
I opened the box. Inside were smooth, shiny pieces of chocolate glistening up at me. “Bite us! Taste us! Swallow us!” I heard them say.
I selected one and took a bite, letting it rest on my tongue. I waited to swallow it, allowing the taste of the cocoa to fill my mouth and spill down my throat.
For the remainder of the morning, we sat next to Mother, nibbling on chocolates and playing while she worked her crossword puzzle and Pop read his magazine. For years, Mother’s Day was celebrated in a similar fashion, a day filled with togetherness, love, and an abundance of chocolate.
Chocolates were part of our family festivities, part of the good times when we came together to share and show that we loved one another. The festivities weren’t so much about the sweetness of the chocolate as they were about the sweetness and love in our hearts for one another.