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Sealed with a kiss

Diane Schwemm

I haven’t seen Eileen since last summer. Our sons grew up together and now are college sophomores. For various reasons — she lives in the mountains, we both have busy schedules — our paths never seem to cross. Something nudged her recently, though, and she picked up the phone.

I’m so glad she did. Friendship is the not-so-secret ingredient of a happy life, but friendships require attention and effort. They require love.

One of the things Eileen and I talked about was how much we find ourselves missing Dylan and Evan even though this is their second year of college and their away-ness isn’t new. Maybe it was because they were just home for winter break. She and Dylan did a bunch of skiing, and then she got to coddle him after he had his wisdom teeth removed. Now he’s back in Wisconsin with ambitious plans for summer that mean he probably won’t come home to Colorado.

This weekend she and I will hang out, drink some wine, catch up on each other’s news and, while we’re at it, put together Valentine’s care packages for the college boys. Doesn’t that seem like a cozy thing to do on this wintry first weekend of February?

Recipe for a delicious February care package

  • Fuzzy socks, hat or scarf
  • Tea, coffee, hot cocoa
  • A cute mug or insulated travel cup
  • Homemade treats (mini quick bread loaves travel well, as do bars — my family loves butterscotch brownies)
  • Chocolate (you know their favorite!)
  • Healthy snacks (dried fruit, nuts and seeds, etc.)
  • Gift card (find local shops and eateries by searching for your student’s school on
  • Laundry detergent pods and quarters
  • Lip gloss or balm
  • Picture frame with family photo, new or old
  • A fun magazine or little stuffed animal
  • Vitamin C lozenges and tissue packs
  • A Valentine card or handwritten note

Make it a party!

If hosting a little get-together will help you shake the winter blues, you and your friends who are also college parents can make care packages together. It’s easy. Stock up on boxes (medium sized, flat-rate Priority Mail boxes from the U.S.P.S. work well) and ask everyone to bring multiples of a single small item from the above list (or something of their own creation). Double check student allergies. Everyone can sign the Valentine that gets popped inside each box. Your students will love the surprise!


Diane Schwemm is a writer and senior editor at CollegiateParent. She and her husband are parents of a college student and two recent graduates. In her off hours, she likes to read, hike and garden and, thanks to the influence of her family, appreciates ballet and basketball equally.

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