Valentine’s Day

No cryptic-coded text messaging this Valentine’s Day . . . Give a keepsake for the heart; a handwritten love letter

Do you remember the last handwritten note you received? Even more, do you remember the last handwritten note you sent?

With our technologically enhanced communications – e-mail, text messaging, voicemail, Facebook status updates, Twitter tweets . . .  it is just so convenient to e-mail people, or to leave one-way voice messages for them, isn’t it? 

The trend in text messaging continues to increase . . . it’s quick and it’s fast.  The same thing is true with e-mail.  You get one and can instantly send a reply.  Your answer is quick, to the point and you feel that you have communicated.  It might be a short reply to answer an e-mailer or simply an acknowledgement that you received the text or the email. 

Hidden behind text-written sentences are cryptic codes and abbreviations.  Just look at the endless choices . . . IM, SMS, cell phones, iPhones, Blackberries, Andoids . . . equipment to deliver our messages that seemingly changes daily.  It is no longer only teenagers using the mysterious language of acronyms and this “shorthand and online jargon” in their communication.  Haven’t we all received “emotions” expressed within e-mails, you know the smiley face emoticons or what about “shouting”  that gets expressed by typing in ALL CAPS, perhaps followed by a frowning face.

The handwritten note has been around for hundreds of years yet it is still the most powerful tool of expression. Deciding to write someone by hand is a decision to connect with a person in a unique way. The handwritten note, among the form letters, magazines, invoices and solicitations, announces to your reader that he or she matters to you. The handwritten note is unique.  It is private; addressed and received only to the person intended.  The handwritten note can be saved and re-read forever.

Because it is not routinely sent, the handwritten note stands out and touches the reader in a way no other form of communication does. It doesn’t interrupt the reader at an inopportune time. We can decide to read it immediately or put it aside to enjoy when it’s convenient.

For those that are holiday-challenged, the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day is around the corner, coming up on Monday.  Think romance with a handwritten note. Online messages, e-mails and Facebook posts really are most unromantic. Can you imagine Robert Browning sending text love messages to Elizabeth Barrett Browning when he became interested in her poems?  What if Robert had texted his ‘love you forever and ever’ sentiment in abbreviated cryptic code?  I wonder if their relationship would have progressed into one of the most famous courtships in literature history.

A handwritten love letter is a keepsake for the heart, a treat for the senses.  When was the last time you penned a sweet love letter?  In the age of emoticons and e-mails, the personal touch has all but disappeared.

Put the romance back in Valentine’s Day and avoid the traps of an over-priced and over-hyped experience. Make this romantic holiday different this year, set aside the keyboard and use the pen and paper.  Instead of the dozen red roses, a box of Godiva’s or the little blue box from Tiffany’s . . . rediscover the thoughtful, handwritten love letter this Valentine’s Day!   Don’t be surprised if it is read over and over and saved for years in the desk drawer.

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Tomorrow is Valentine's Day . . . What Not to Give

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. If you care enough to give a gift on Valentine’s Day, how bad can the gift really be? After all, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. The official day dedicated to declaring your love for that special someone strikes dread in the hearts of men and anticipation in the hearts of women everywhere. Valentine’s Day has become a multi-million dollar industry where traditional gifts of chocolates and cards are exchanged by thousands of couples. For those adventuresome few who stray off the traditional path, there are certain gifts that are guaranteed to put a damper on your Valentine’s Day romantic celebration.

As a gift giver on Valentine’s Day, it’s important to understand the gift should represent your emotional bond with the recipient. So, even if your beloved has been hinting for months that the very gift she would love to have for herself is a new wok, Valentine’s Day is not the time for that gift. Far better to cave to tradition and go the sentimental card and candy route on this day, and then next week surprise her with the wok, than to risk having her think you value her only for her skills in the kitchen.

This approach works perfectly when it is the woman on the receiving end of the Valentine’s Day gift. Women, being emotional creatures, love the idea that they are cherished and desired. Men, on the other hand, may prove to be a different story. Oh sure, men appreciate the token card or even candy, but they also understand the value of the good, old-fashioned sensible gift. If you present men with a new drill for Valentine’s Day he is less likely to feel unappreciated than a woman receiving a vacuum cleaner might feel. In fact, you may find that he is quite pleased to see that you understand his needs and have actually been listening when he talks about the tools he would like for his workshop.

Gifting cleaning supplies seem to be a common mistake unknowingly made by men. While a new vacuum cleaner or dishwasher may seem like a gift that will bring convenience to a hectic life, these gifts are better left for Christmas or birthdays. Women don’t want to be reminded of their cleaning duties on such a special day. Valentine’s Day should be used as a day for romance and love, not convenience and ease of life. Kitchen appliances such as blenders or dishes are not romantic either. Cooking, just like cleaning, is a chore to most women, and therefore being reminded of their expectations does not set well as a romantic gesture. On the other hand if you were to purchase a new oven or set of pots and pan, then surprise her with a romantic candlelit dinner made by you using these new items, it would be a perfect way to incorporate such gift into a romantic gesture any woman is sure to appreciate.

It is never a good idea to purchase any kind of exercise equipment or gym membership for a loved one as a Valentine’s Day gift. Although the gift of health is precious, it will probably be taken more as an insult. No one wants to be told on Valentine’s Day that they need to lose a few pounds, and that is precisely how most women will receive such a gift. Unless you can turn it into a couple’s membership and present it as a way to spend time together getting healthy or utilizing some of the fringe benefits of a health club membership.

Valentine’s Day is the symbolic day of honoring the one you love with a small token of your undying esteem and love. As such, any gift worthy of presenting on this day must speak of love, not practicality. The standard gifts of cards, candy, flowers and jewelry may seem to be overused and commonplace but, let’s face it, they do get the job done. Many women will “ooh” and “Ahh” over delectable chocolates, a favorite bouquet of roses or a sentimental card. These gifts have become traditional for a reason. Few women will elicit the same reaction to a vacuum cleaner or a new coffee pot.

In order to make sure you don’t turn this Valentine’s Day into one to forget, make sure you don’t give a gift worth forgetting. The worst Valentine’s Day gift . . . you’ve probably guessed it by now. Though many want all days of the year to be Valentines Day’s women expect men to give a gift to them at least on Valentine’s Day. Men, the absolute worst gift you can give on Valentine’s Day is ‘nothing’. Don’t even try explaining this one since words will be futile.

Happy Valentine’s Day . . .

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