share the love

It’s Valentine’s Day, which in the west means lots of candy, flowers, and cards. It also means plenty of money is spent. For instance, in 2009 retailers took in a cool $14.7 BILLION from lovestruck American consumers. That’s an awful lot of conversation hearts and roses.

The truth is, candy and flowers don’t cut it for many anymore. Expensive gifts like jewelry, dinners at upscale restaurants, spa visits and even vacations are common. It seems the trend, in classic American fashion, says bigger is better. If you love me, show me the money.

I will admit to a love for all things Valentiney. I love candy and flowers – and jewelry and trips – as much as the next girl. But this year, having recently survived a period of unemployment for my hubby – I’m not expecting material gifts. But that’s not to say I don’t want something.

We all want something from those we love. We want to be acknowledged. We want to be appreciated. We want this every day, of course, not just on a holiday designated by greeting card companies or florists.

This morning my husband surprised me with a beautiful photo of my favorite flower that he had printed out from the internet, accompanied by a heartfelt note. It’s one of the better gifts I’ve received from him. In better (financial) times, I’d still hope for a real bouquet, but there is something to the saying “it’s the thought that counts.”

Put a little thought into this Valentine’s Day. Is there a better way to share your love than with a heart-shaped box of candy? I’m not suggesting you stop giving material gifts, if that makes your loved one smile. Just don’t forget that often the best gift of all doesn’t cost a thing.

Some ideas: Wash the dishes, make the bed, or do a load of laundry without being asked. Write a love poem. Offer a back or foot rub. Prepare a favorite meal. Say not just “I love you” but “I admire you. I’m proud of you. I respect you.”

And don’t let it end when the boxes of candy are empty. Keep it up. We need to share the love much more often than once a year.

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