While I hate to bore my foodie pals with a two-in-a-row-non-food post, I’m sharing my funny Valentine celebration.

As I mentioned last week, I was in California staying with my little grandson while my daughter was in Costa Rica.  Caring for him included running carpool 3 days and meeting with his kindergarten teacher about the class party on Friday . . .  because my daughter had volunteered me to help with said party in a most interesting fashion.  I was to be the special, super-secret guest of honor at the party, but disguised as The Queen of Hearts.    This multi-themed party would include a Valentine exchange, a puppet show, a visit from the friendly Q of H and (to celebrate Chinese New Year)  a noisy parade and an Asian potluck!

The kids needed to make Valentines for their classmates– so we started them early in the week.  These took 4 days to make at 20-30 minute stretches.  Aren’t they just 6 kinds of cute?

The teacher loaned me her velvet renaissance dress and cape for my Queen get-up.  The dress was about 20 pounds of lush, red velvet with strings to cinch it in the front and back.  That made it fit pretty well, but I looked a little  roundish with all the bunched-up, heavy fabric.    I managed to keep all this Queen business a secret from my grandson and his classmates – until the night before the party.  When Noah found  the crown I’d made and asked what was up, I confessed.  I guess the teacher had made a really big deal about the Queen’s visit so he kind of flipped out.  He turned red and was at once horrified and excited, happy and scared.  He said, “Are you embarrassed to do this?”   I admitted that I was a little nervous, but assured him that it was going to be fun.

The day of the party, I helped him deliver his Valentines to all the little mailboxes.  Then I took pictures while they had “circle time,” then went through their pile of loot.

Next was the noisy parade.  They had been told to bring their loudest noisemakers for the parade.  The entire school walked through the neighborhood making racket [I believe] to scare away the bad spirits of the old year.  My hair probably did a good job of that – the wind and humidity gave me a wicked and wild-looking ‘do!   During the post-parade puppet show, I slipped out to change.  I donned the big dress and purple cape in the teacher’s lounge and then did my best to tame my hair before perching the gold crown on top.  The teacher ushered me into the classroom and the children played flutes for me while I walked down a rainbow carpet and sat in a gold throne they’d made just for me.  This throne was quite low to the ground so my knees were a little higher than my bum when I sat down.  (Perfect look for me – the squatting queen in a big heavy dress with wild hair)  I sat up as straight as possible, smiled my widest smile and just went with it.  They assigned two attendants for any of my queenly needs and the children came up one at a time to visit the queen and receive a tart.  When Noah’s turn came, he gave me a secret wink and a thumbs up.  He was proud of me!  In fact, all the kids seemed to love the crazy-haired queen.

When everyone had been seen by the Queen, we had a tea party and then some traditional Chinese New Year foods.    It was one of the most unusual parties I’d ever attended and I loved every minute of it.

On Valentine’s Day proper, I spent the entire day in airports.  Not all was lost however, as an interesting young writer sat beside me on the longest leg of my trip.  We became friends and impromptu drinking buddies on the spot!