January has blown away in a chilly wind and we're into a new month. Now, the question is, are you gearing up for Groundhog Day on Tuesday or Valentine's Day on the 14th?
Let's be clear. There's a real difference between these two special days. If you forget it's Groundhog Day, I doubt anyone will be unhappy with you. Forget Valentine's Day, and you may be in deep grease.
First, if you plan to buy a Valentine card for your sweetie, don't wait until the 13th or 14th. That's when the term "picked over" is heard time and again. My friend got a card from her husband that had "Happy Valentine's Day to a special aunt!" splashed across the front. He had marked out "aunt" and with his daughter's crayon had written "wife" above it.
Those of us who heard the story thought it was a lot funnier than she did.
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Some people say they don't celebrate Valentine's Day because it's a "Hallmark holiday" and was dreamed up just to sell cards.
Now listen — Valentine's Day was around long before formal greeting cards. Many legends about St. Valentine are out there, but my favorite is that St. Valentine was a kind priest who lived during the third century in Rome.
At that time, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men. But the priest secretly married young couples, for which Claudius ordered him put to death.
Poor Valentine. His love of romantic love killed him.
Now it's your turn to be a romantic, even if it's just for a day. You don't have to buy a card. Write a note, a poem or an all-out mushy love letter. Those are better than a card anyway.
And here's a tip: If your sweetie says he or she doesn't want anything for Happy Heart Day, do not listen. Get something. Even if it's small, get something.
Remember at Christmas time when I gave that same advice in this column? After the first of the year I got an e-mail from a male reader who said I had saved his life.
He wrote how he had decided to stick with the agreement he and his fiance made to not buy gifts for each other. After reading my column he decided to play it safe, got her a necklace, wrapped it and hid it.
On Christmas morning, she presented him with a beautiful sweater because she "couldn't stand not to give him a gift." Luckily he had one to give in return, so it was a very merry Christmas.
"She loved it, but she wasn't as surprised as I thought she would be. Bonnie, you saved my (put body part here)," he wrote.
If you've had a funny or not-so-funny experience or gift on Valentine's Day, or a wonderfully romantic one, please call, e-mail or write. I'd enjoy hearing about it.
Oh, and Happy Groundhog Day.