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It was about this time each year that - with a little help from the family - Grandma would finish off that last gooey piece of Valentines Day chocolate.

"Grandma, your box is sooooooo pretty," I'd always say, eyeing the lacy box with a plastic rose glued to the top. "It is pretty," she said with that smile that could only mean one thing: I know what you're getting at but I'll play along anyway. "You and Mallory can have it if you want."

It was tradition. Papaw would buy her a beautiful, heart-shaped box of candy each year, we'd help her eat it and then my sister and I would eventually end up with the box.

Mallory and I shared a room through a lot of our childhood, so these boxes became joint treasure chests for us, places to store notes from friends, valentines and even "secret" candy stashes that lost their secrecy once the ants came marching in.

I was thinking about this unofficial ritual last week while perusing the pink and red aisles in a local drugstore. And it made me wonder what people do with their leftover boxes. It's a shame to get rid of something so pretty right away, I think, but what else can you do?

Besides my memory box idea, I'm pretty much out. But others have come up with some pretty interesting ideas. Here are a few I found while digging through the Internet:

This Web site shows you how to turn those boxes into albums to display valentine cards. This could be a really good way for kids to document the ones they get at school.
Here you'll find instructions on transforming that box into the template for a heart-shaped stepping stone. Probably more work than I'm willing to dish out, but it's pretty amazing.
*And on this page you can find out how to turn that box into a picture frame.