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Davison Cheney
My two youngest keep themselves entertained in the dark.

Editor's note: While Valentine's Day is a dat for the perfect romantic dinner, sometimes things don't go quite as planned. The Deseret News asked for experiences when that perfectly planned Valentine meal went awry.

Our first Valentine's Day together as a married couple wasn't worthy of a story book. Of course, nothing about the courtship was remotely romantic, and I betray no confidence in telling so.

She had been married before and was still trying to find a way to find and maintain "normal" for her children. I was trying to fit into an established family — minus the one.

I thought I would try to throw a bit of whimsy into our Valentine's Day to make the scales tip in favor of a little romance with a candlelight dinner and some nice china. I found two sets of silverware that matched (or at least might look similar in candlelight).

But the power went off at about 7 p.m., before I started cooking, and the video that the kids were supposed to be watching — the video I had rented for the occasion — was out with the lights.

The kids with nothing better to do mobbed us in the dining room, marveling that I had the candles out so fast after the power outage.

I had planned on preparing chicken cordon bleu (right out of the freezer, add a cheese sauce and voila! Instant romantic guy!) But my then-10-year-old explained that she had found the packets in the freezer the week before and had had a very tasty after-school snack. No delightful morsels for us.

The kids slowly picked what was left of our meal apart. They sat around our table and sampled the fake wine, olives and cheese. Clearly, the evening was taking a left turn at romantic and heading towards an everyday dinner with the fam.

Being cash-strapped (not much has changed in 15 years!) I started a fire in the fireplace, ran to the taco place and got several burritos. We then covered them with tinfoil and placed them in the coals to warm.

We poured milk into the crystal and our oldest boy had the girls convinced that the lights going out was a plot for someone to break into our apartment, so the little ones wouldn't leave our side until morning. I had the children get their sleeping bags and we camped out in the living room and played the "name the movie this quote is from" game.

We tried to pop popcorn in the fireplace, but we just ended up with burnt pans and a bad smell. We weren’t able to open the doors or windows to aerate because of the guys trying to break in, so it smelled like a garbage can for the rest of the night — until the girls fell asleep anyway.

Our marriage is a lot like that evening.

We have grandchildren now. Sometimes a quick dance in the kitchen when dinner is being prepared is all my wife and I get.

Not especially romantic, but like burritos in the fireplace, it does the job.

Davison Cheney writes the "Prodigal Dad" column for KSL.com. See his other writings at davisoncheneymegadad.blogspot.com.