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Heads up gents: last-minute tips for Valentine’s

Relic of St. Valentine in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. wikipedia Relic of St. Valentine in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. wikipedia

No book review this week. Just some last minute advice for men about the Feast of Love.

It’s V-Day, guys; time to hit the beaches.

And once again you’ve forgotten to find a gift for that special someone in your life.

Like some of you, I too have stood at Ingles on Valentine’s Day, flowers in one hand, some candy in the other, looking as shame-faced as the other gents waiting in the check-out line. Go ahead and buy the flowers and candy, but here are some last-minute tips in the literary department that might give a special glow to your love on this Valentine’s Day.

But first some general advice.

Never ever mock Valentine’s Day. Never say that the holiday was concocted by chocolatiers, Hallmark, or florists. And never do as my brother once did. Married now for four decades, several years ago he suggested to his wife that they skip Valentine’s Day because “it was really for the young and they were too old.” When he told me he’d uttered that last statement, I was laughing so hard I could barely hear the rest of his story. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to how his suggestion went down. Being thrown in the doghouse doesn’t begin to describe it. Think of a dungeon instead.

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And for heaven’s sakes, don’t slog your way through V-Day. Since you’re going to celebrate it anyway, why not do it up right and have some fun? Make the day a huge celebration. Go out to a fancy restaurant. Break open a special bottle of champagne. Instead of a dozen roses, buy two-dozen. Instead of moaning about Valentine’s Day, party hearty. Life’s too short not to add another celebration to the calendar. 

Now for some tips involving literary gifts that will cost you little or nothing, but which should bring joy and deep pleasure to your spouse or lover.

First, head for your local bookstore and look for a volume of love poetry or one of those tiny gift books about romance, the ones whose covers usually feature roses or a picture of a couple walking along the beach. Write an affectionate inscription on the flyleaf, have it wrapped, and along with the flowers, candy, and card present the package to your beloved.

Next, hit the Internet, Google “famous love poems,” and select a verse you like — and more importantly, one that would bring pleasure to your beloved other. At the “Poetry Foundation,” you’ll even find love poems listed by category: “Sad Love,” “Erotic,” “I Miss You,” “Teen Love,” and so on. You might pick out a classic poem, like Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 “How Do I Love Thee?” or Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” Poke around online, and you might discover a poet whose name and work are entirely unfamiliar to you, but whose verse fits your beloved like a ring on the finger.

If you’re a believer in the Old Book, you can always go to 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast…” Ancient words, but powerful enough to adorn many a wedding ceremony. 

Now write out the poem, tuck it into an envelope, and present it along with the other gifts. When the one you love opens the envelope, consider reading the poem aloud. That reading may embarrass you, but bear in mind many find embarrassment endearing. 

Better still, write your love a letter, preferably by hand. (My own chicken-scratching has long precluded pen from paper.) Tell that one your feelings. Share some intimate thoughts — not necessarily sexual in nature, but real and true emotions. Be specific. Mention the good times and leave the bad ones for another day. 

And remember: sincerity is what counts. It helps if you can write well, but being yourself on that piece of paper is the goalpost. If you have a knack for drawing, add a sketch or two to the note. If humor is your forte, unleash that wit. If you have something you have long wanted to say but can’t push the words past your tongue, then let your fingers do the talking. 

Consider telling or reading a story to your loved one. O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi may be set at Christmas, but the point of the story centers on the sacrifices made by Jim and Della for each other. The Internet again offers scores of possibilities. At, for example, we find “The Most Beautiful Short Love Stories,” a collection mini-stories that touch the heart. 

Valentine’s Day has value in that it focuses our attention on the one we love. It accents our relationship, reminds us of our affection, and offers the chance to demonstrate a depth of feeling often buried by the circumstances of daily life. 

But why stop there? Why not make every day a sort of valentine with a kiss or a hug, a glance of the eye, a note lying on the pillow of the bed, a thank you when that morning coffee appears at your elbow, an unexpected gift, a simple “I love you?”

Show that special person in your life your love.

(Jeff Minick is a writer and teacher. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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