Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | February 14, 2011

Simple Expressions of Love

For some reason, I’ve never understood the need to break the bank on pricey or showy Valentine’s Day gifts.

Cartoon image courtesy of web comic http://xkcd.com/223/

I do appreciate the fact that our society sets aside a special day to celebrate love and the impact is has on our lives, but I do resent what marketing departments have done to this holiday, since the first commercial Valentine’s were produced in the late 1800’s.

This morning, over coffee, Keith and I were reminiscing our childhood Valentine’s Days.

We would sit at the kitchen table the night before the holiday, and sign our names to those cheezy little Valentine’s with the silly rhymes on them, and then carefully place them in envelopes.

The next morning we would proudly carry those envelopes to school, and wait until the appointed time in the afternoon when we would carefully pass out our Valentine’s, and then return to our desks to a big pile of love just waiting for us to open and enjoy.

What a self-esteem booster those Valentine’s were…even the kids who teased you on the playground became friends for that one day, although you knew in your heart that they were forced to do it because school rules said you had to bring a Valentine for everyone.

To me, that was the perfect way to celebrate democratically…share the love with everyone.

As an adult, I worked for five years as the General Manager of Cero’s Candies in Wichita, KS.

It was a chocoholics dream job ~ making the production of hand-dipped gourmet chocolates your life’s work ~ but I can honestly say that working at a candy store at Valentine’s Day can suck all the life out of the holiday for you, if you let it.

Each year, on February 13th and 14th, the TV stations would come to film long lines of men snaking through the store, waiting to make their purchases.

These were not necessarily upper income folks. They were for the most part, hard-working guys who wanted to do something nice for the loves of their lives, and the fabulous chocolates we produced right there in the store, (you could even stand in the viewing corridor and watch us making them), were a special, once-a-year way to show their love.

We even had one elderly man who came in every year, carrying a huge, fancy heart-shaped box that he had purchased for his wife at Cero’s, when they were newlyweds. He presented a list of the chocolates he wanted, and we would fill up that box with all manner of tempting delights…dark chocolate maple creams, caramels, turtles and nut clusters…chocolate dipped orange peel and apricots, melt-in-your-mouth toffee, and cappuccino truffles. My mouth is watering, just remembering.

But, I also remember how exhausted I and my employees were when we finally locked the door for the night, to balance the registers for the next day.

The candy case would be nearly empty, and if there were enough chocolate-filled heart boxes left on the shelves, each employee was gifted with one, as a small token of my appreciation for their hard work. That store made at least 1/3 of their annual income at Valentine’s Day, and it took every one of us to make it happen.

I must admit that the Cero’s experience did a lot to influence my Valentine’s Day practices, and it was about that time that I introduced a novel approach to Valentine card gifting with the man in my life.

Rather than spend an hour in the card aisle, reading all the sappy or silly cards, and trying to find the perfect one, we went together to the card aisle and spent 15 minutes or so simply finding cute cards and making one another read them. We never bought a single card ~ just presented one another with a variety of sentiments ~ and then we were on our way! Genius, if I must say so myself 🙂

This practice has carried on through the years, and a week or so ago, Keith and I continued the tradition, so today, we are off the hook, and can simply enjoy one another’s company.

I will admit that we did purchase cards for our grandchildren, but as all grandparents know ~ grandkids are special and we can break all the rules for those darling offspring of our very own.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to my faithful blog readers…and may you find the perfect way to share simple expressions of love, today.

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