So, it’s February and the month of “all things love,” right? With these current times being what they are, most of us could really use something that warms the heart. A “feel good” something. I re-discovered mine recently and am counting it as one of those simple and somewhat ordinary things in life that just brings a smile to my face and a smidgen of happiness amidst all else going on in this ever-changing world of ours. My own “love story” of sorts. What is this amazing feel-good-something that makes my eyes light up and my heart skip a beat? Chocolate! And not just any chocolate, but something special to me. Chocolate with a story.
My story isn’t the typical heart-warming love story one might expect to hear about an amazingly romantic relationship, a beloved family member, or a treasured BFF, though I do have stories about all the above. This is about a story likely meaningful only to me, but one that I hope will encourage others to look for their own bit of happiness and pleasure in the ordinary – something that warms the heart in a world that can at times be cold.
So, what is this simple, ordinary, feel-good something of mine? Well, it involves a small piece of chocolate. I told you it was simple and ordinary! This chocolate, simple as it is, has the power to make my day. And some days I NEED my day to be made. And it has a story, making it all the better.
I discovered these amazing chocolate hedgehogs – yes, you read that right, chocolate hedgehogs. An unexpected find from many years ago while on a Caribbean cruise with my parents and siblings in my younger years, these candies are simply amazing. Browsing through all the incredible shops on the cruise ship, I came across the most decadent, chocolate hazelnuts candies that even 30+ years later still have my heart. Made by Purdy’s Chocolate, a Canadian chocolatier, these little cuties were introduced in the early 1990’s – about the time we were on our cruise – and feature a smooth, hazelnut gianduja filling nestled inside THE cutest milk chocolate hedgehog shell. Since learning of Purdy’s, I have tried some of their other products and they are all exceptionally good, though the hedgehogs are definitely my favorite. I decided to place a mail order and found that when ordered seasonally, they arrived fresh and in excellent condition. I have placed many orders since the cruise in the 1990’s, and received many boxes of happiness over the years.
I remember having lots of laughs on the cruise ship about these hedgehogs. With the midnight buffets that included decadent desserts and appetizers along with other late-night indulgences, the on-deck grills and bars, and the formal dining room gourmet meals, I still found a way to work in at least a couple of the hedgehogs into my daily menu. My family would ask me every day if I had my hedgehog yet, and at the time of no internet, whatever I walked off the ship with is all that I would have, so I ‘stocked up’ and had quite the full luggage when we disembarked from the ship. I also faintly remember almost missing a shuttle standing in line trying to make my last purchase. I also remember the waiter bringing me a hedgehog, encased under a silver dome, as a joke (my family had evidently confiscated my “inventory” and made an under-handed deal with the waiter for dessert time). What great memories I have of this trip and these special treats. Anytime I eat one of the candies, it takes me back to a laughing, family of four much like the family I have now, and a time where my own parents were in their prime, enjoying life and family, and me and my siblings being young adults at the age where we weren’t yet jaded about some of the difficult parts of life’s journey. It’s bittersweet – the chocolate and the memories. I’m not sure which brings me more joy and that heart-warming feeling. Perhaps it is a bit of both.
Here’s to the simple and ordinary, and an unexpected, heart-warming “love story” that each of us can find from our own lives if we seek it.