Saturday, February 13, 2016

Is a Card Gift Enough for Valentine's Day?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and people will be showering loved ones with cards, flowers, boxes of candy shaped like hearts and maybe even jewelry. The lucky ones, that is.

I’m usually one of the lucky ones, but we just came back from a quickie vacation in Florida and I don’t want Vince spending a lot of money on me. Not that I would ever stop the man if he insisted.

But he has given me more sparkly things than I have fingers, necks, earlobes or wrists on which to wear them. True, a girl can never have enough sparkly things – but I’m practicing restraint this year.

This would just look silly.
Yuh huh. I can too practice restraint.  (Okay…sometimes.)

And, truthfully, Vince shows me every day that he loves me by working as hard as he does. And he tells me so when he texts me T-O-Y (thinking of you) during his busy day. And when he surprises me by bringing home a bouquet of flowers on a random Tuesday "just because." So we don't necessarily need that one day out of the year to say "I love you" to each other.  

Rather than going out for an expensive Valentine’s Day dinner where the wait is long or the meal is rushed so the tables can be turned quicker, this year I bought some NY strip steaks and a nice bottle of wine. We’ll have a salad and maybe some roasted redskin potatoes. I might even get ambitious and bake something sweet for dessert.

Maybe.  I sometimes have grandiose ideas that don’t come to fruition.  If I don’t get out the Kitchen-Aid or preheat the oven, Vince could always have an ice cream bar from the freezer.  I could make it all fancy and serve it on a heart-shaped doily.  Yeah, I’m starting to think that’s the way to go.  I’m not sure I want to dirty the Kitchen-Aid today.

And, after all, nothin’ says true love like a dark chocolate almond Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar

Plus, I bought him a nice card. I got it a few weeks ago when the Valentine’s card selection was at its peak.

Yesterday I went to the store and the pickins were pretty slim. I couldn’t even find one that wished both a mother and a father Happy Valentine’s Day in one card – so I’m just going to have to call them. My parents will probably appreciate a call even more than a card anyway, so it’s all good.

I did find a generic Valentine’s card that I could have sent, but it wasn’t very impressive. And when I turned the card over and saw that it was $4.99, I was horrified. I mean, I’ll pay $4.99 for a nice card, but c’mon. A red heart on the front and the inside reads: “Happy Valentine’s Day!”?  Sheesh. That’s worth maybe a buck and a quarter – tops.  That Hallmark card writer must’ve lost his creative mojo that day. Either that, or he had recently broken up with someone and wasn’t feeling the love just then.

But if the price of greeting cards goes up much higher, I may start taking after Vince’s Aunt Betty.  When we saw her in Florida earlier this week, she told us a story about taking her granddaughter shopping once upon a time.  While they were at the store, Aunt Betty started perusing the birthday cards.  An elderly lady was standing next to Aunt Betty also looking through the rack of cards. 

Finally, Aunt Betty picks one out and calls her granddaughter over to her.  She says, “Here – read this!”  Her granddaughter reads the card and compliments Aunt Betty on the lovely choice and the perfect sentiment.  And then Aunt Betty plucked the card out of her granddaughter’s hand and put it back in the rack.  She said, “There – that was your birthday card!” And they both laughed.

But the lady standing next to Aunt Betty had a look of utter astonishment on her face, which only made Aunt Betty and her granddaughter laugh harder. 

But my guess is that the lady probably thought to herself, What a great idea! I wish I had thought of that myself.

Of course, the flaw in Aunt Betty’s plan is that we don’t always have our loved ones at the store with us while we’re shopping for whatever occasion it is that requires a greeting card.

I once knew someone who opened the birthday card I bought him, read it quickly, said “thanks” and then tossed it immediately in the trash.  Talk about wearing a look of utter astonishment.  I mean, you’d think he could’ve at least waited to throw the thing out until after I’d left.  But I made it a point to never again buy that person a card. I could have just as easily taken the cash and thrown it directly into the garbage can. No thought required.  

Conversely, I’m one of those people who treasures cards that I receive.  To me, it means that someone has taken the time to select a card and either mail it to me – or has actually delivered it in person.  You can’t beat that.

I still have cards from when I was a kid.  And, okay, so I haven’t saved every single card I was ever given – by this age, I’d need a separate storage facility to store them all in. But I do have a great many of them and when I see them, I’m reminded of that time in my life or the person who cared enough to send the very best.  (Oops. Another Hallmark reference. And, no, I don’t have stock in the company.)

Some people think occasions like Valentine’s Day are simply a way for greeting card companies, florists, chocolatiers and jewelers to get people to part with their hard-earned cash.  And there may be some truth to that statement given the amount of advertising they do.  But the holiday has been around for a bunch of centuries and who are we to disparage it? 

I like it when someone tells me they care – and it doesn’t just have to be my Vince, either. I cherished the Valentine’s Day cards I received in the mail from my Nanna when I was younger. She’s gone now – and I miss hearing from her. I’d even be okay if we could go shopping together and she showed me the perfect card she selected just for me – and then put it back in the rack!

So Happy Valentine’s Day, Aunt Betty. Thanks for the story. And this, by the way, is your card! 

And Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. I hope you have a sweet day. And even if you don’t have anyone special to celebrate it with, know that there are lots of people in your life who love and care about you.

Heck, take the time and do something nice for yourself. After all, you’re worth it. It could be sparkly. It could be some pretty flowers.  

Or maybe just have one of those dark chocolate almond Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars. No heart-shaped doily required.

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