Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day

On Valentine's Day, everyone is supposed to pretend that love is ideal, uncompromising and eternal, at least for 24 hours. There is something contrived about Valentine's Day.

It's a shame, too, since Valentine's Day is based on such lovely and well-intentioned themes as love, devotion and sentiment. How can anyone not want to show respect for such noble ideals? Children still exchange paper valentines with their classmates and friends. But adults are expected to participate with flowers, candy or some other token. Sorry men, but it is your responsibility to prevent the woman in your life from feeling slighted when she compares notes with her friends. And she will compare notes.

What are we actually celebrating? That we all own calendars and are aware of the date? That we finally remembered Valentine's Day after watching commercials for the past month hint about upcoming sales and specials?

Inevitably, some local news reporter who is having a "light news day" will appear on the street or at a neighborhood mall and ask some shopper if he/she has bought their Valentine's Day gifts. The interviewee will no doubt look stunned and announce, "Uh, no." They might also elaborate that they have no idea what to get.

Well, if that description fits you, fear not. I have accumulated a list of gift ideas from this week's local newspapers. The list is provided below. (These are actual gift suggestions. I could not/did not make these up!)

Heart-shaped box of candy (various styles and designs with various contents)
Valentine's Day Mylar balloons
Valentine's Day stick balloons
Greeting cards
Flower, strawberry, salad or herb garden grow kits
Assorted candies including heart-shaped pops, jelly pops and chocolate heart pretzels
Candy heart-shaped locket
Valentine's Day sock monkey
Gift bags, pencils, bracelets, assorted plush animals, candles
Heart-shaped sterling silver lockets
Gemstone jewelry hearts including earrings, bracelets and pendants
Valentine's d├ęcor including mugs, picture frames and owls (yes, owls)
Sapphire heart-shaped earrings
Fresh-cut flowers including roses
Live plants including orchids, lilies and miniature roses
Pillow pets
Heart-shaped cakes and cookies
Boxes of loose valentines
Valentine's Day favors including notepads, erasers and stickers
Valentine mailboxes (to decorate yourself)
Lingerie and sleepwear including thongs and boxers
Heart-shaped toss pillow or heart-decorated plush throw
Heart-decorated ribbon and floral arrangements
Valentine's Day apparel including graphic T-shirts and socks
Hair accessories including heart-shaped barrettes
Heart-shaped bake ware and candy molds
Heart-decorated table linens and kitchen towels
Hand-painted wine glasses and champagne flutes
And for those with no imagination, pre-assembled kits including lotion, candy, body paint and underwear.

If anyone you encounter says that they have no ideas for a Valentine's Day gift, you might suggest that they pick up the newspaper or venture off to the mall. There are enough holiday-themed useless items to go around.

For people with some imagination, there are plenty of other things that women enjoy. Try giving her some type of personal indulgence, like a manicure, facial or spa appointment. Many hotels offer overnight or weekend packages with room service and all the trimmings.

But it's a shame that men believe that the best gifts cost money. Few things are as nice as just spending time with someone you care for. In this era of texting and emails, it's nice to have one-on-one conversation. Cook dinner for her and enjoy it quietly (without the kiddies). You don't have to have gourmet skills. If your specialty is spaghetti with bottled sauce, she will likely be thrilled.

It doesn't take a lot to let someone know what they mean to you. Just don't forget to do something.

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