Valentine’s Day: The Agony and the Ecstasy. (Mostly agony, really.)

Not a big fan of Valentine’s Day on the whole, as I suck at coming up with clever and romantic gifts for my wife, who says she doesn’t care, and she probably even means it, but that still doesn’t get me off the hook. I don’t want to go into the details, but there have been times in our marriage when I’ve neglected the necessities of good gift giving, and if I can come up with some kind of Valentine’s Day inspiration, I can maybe compensate for all the other crap I’ve forgotten. It never seems to work, though. Maybe this year. (And maybe pigs will fly screaming out of my left buttock.)

Anyway, there’s one family tradition from my childhood that we’ve carried into the next generation: the Valentine’s Day Treasure Hunt.

As a kid, the treasure hunt involved a series of clues to wander around the house to find other clues, and finally to the last clue, which included a bunch of goofy toys, usually hidden in the washing machine. Our treasure hunts are slightly different – there’s an initial clue and then five other clues, and at each clue, there’s a toy for one of the kids. We did modify that slightly last year, though, which caused great consternation in the Cornell household.

Here’s what happened. We had tried to get a Wii for Christmas 2006, but we were unsuccessful. We ended up buying one in January on eBay for $100 over the list price and then puzzled over when to give it to the kids. Waiting for Christmas would have been too long, and we didn’t think it was appropriate to give to one of the kids for a birthday present, so we decided that the Valentine’s Day Treasure Hunt was probably the best opportunity.

So instead of getting a present with each clue, the kids got a Wii at the conclusion. The problem came because my wife and I decided that we actually would give a present with each clue, albeit a small one. A very small one.

Each kid got a ring pop.

You’ve seen those, haven’t you? They’re the little plastic rings with a diamond shaped fruity slab of hard candy attached to them. Needless to say, this was way below their usual standard. The end result was that the kids wailed and screamed like spoiled beasties with every clue, since there was no hint of the bounty that awaited them at the end of the hunt. They came very close to ending the hunt prematurely and getting themselves sent to bed early, but somehow we persevered, and now they have a Wii.

They’ll probably whine and moan this year when the toys they get aren’t nearly as good as a Wii.

Did I mention Valentine’s Day sucks?

Gotta go. I have to pick up a ring pop for my wife on the way home.

A Lack of Imagination
Indiana Jones and the Gun Free Zones

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