Holiday of love, By Angel Perkins

It may seem a little soon to be gabbing about Valentine’s Day but unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, retailers galore are trying to make you aware that the time for shopping is already here.
Conversation hearts with tiny messages adorn shelves alongside heart-shaped boxes and pink, white and red stuffed animals of every shape and size, most of them bearing some affectionate sentiment. Children are picking out which television-themed cards they want to hand out to their classmates — unless they are deciding between the ones that have suckers or stickers attached.
Men across the world will get satin boxers with pictures of kisses on them or giant hearts made of chocolate. They might find their female counterpart in a romantic mood Feb. 14 — that is, if they choose the correct gift to give.
Men, if you’ve been with your woman for more than three years you should have it down by now. If not, you may need some advice from a sister or aunt. Better yet, watch almost any commercial.
You can never go wrong with roses, chocolate (unless she’s dieting) a romantic evening out, or diamonds. In fact, flowers may be the best way to go because almost 15 percent of women send themselves flowers each Valentine’s Day. If buying roses however, ask an actual florist what the colors mean because 75 percent of women know what each color represents.
A hand-written love note (more than three paragraphs long — and no double-spacing) also does wonders, as long as you don’t mention any body parts other than her lips or eyes…
If you’re dating, you’d better make sure you do, before you purchase anything with the words “I Love You” printed on it. If not, stick to a box of candy and a stuffed animal that shakes its tail while singing Buster Poindexter’s annoying ditty, “Hot, Hot, Hot.” There is really no way to go wrong if you ask your “love” what she would like. If she needs coaxing ask her to tell you the top three most horrible gifts she’s ever received for the holiday (before you met her of course) and actually listen to what she says and steer clear of them.
My advice is, don’t even think about buying something that has any real use … for a holiday like Valentine’s Day. No sweepers, sheet sets, coffee makers or exercise equipment. It’s all about being ro-man-tic. Look it up.
Though the celebration for the “holiday of love” is said to have originated because of a man by the name of Valentine (some stories say he was a saint, others that he was a priest) that married couples illegally and was jailed because of his love for a woman. Some say it was spawned via a pagan mating ritual but my husband is sure it came about in the early 1900s when a summit of greedy, entrepreneur chocolatiers, greeting card salesmen and florists voted to begin the tradition, and then spread it by word of mouth through female socialites of the time. (I don’t even bother to mention the phrase “Sweetest Day.”)
A flower shop has been in my family for more than 105 years but my husband of 20 has never put flowers for me on our account for that holiday. Yep. I went there. He made up for it though by writing the most romantic letter I’ve ever read. Heck, no greeting card mogul has anything on him — and while I rarely get jewels, I often get dinner out, candy and attention.
One thing I hate about working Valentine’s Day is when the men come in to order something at the last minute, as if they had no idea what the month meant, though the likely folded hundreds of “Be Mine” cards as children and surely had mothers.
They need it now, and worse yet, they want it within an unrealistic budget. I’ve imagined writing on the back of the card I filled out for some poor woman: “This man said $20 was too much to spend on you and when I asked him what you liked, he really did say ‘I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter.’”
Those guys do serve a greater purpose though; they make my husband look like Prince Charming.
Here are some not-so-well known Valentine’s Day facts:
• In February of 2008, census records showed there were 1,777 jewelry manufacturers and 28,300 jewelry stores in the United States that sold $2.6 million worth of merchandise that month alone.
• About $650 million in specific Valentine’s Day-related merchandise is sold each year for the holiday (worldwide).
• Approximately two million couples tie the knot on Valentine’s Day each year in the U.S. (likely because its easier for the husbands to remember that way).
• About one billion Valentine’s Day are sold each year.
• The Italian city of Verona receives about 1,000 letters address to Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet every Valentine’s Day.
• Teachers receive the most valentines with children coming in second.
• More than 50 percent of Valentine’s Day cards are purchased within the six days prior to the holiday ... mostly by men.
• If you live in Japan, it’s the women who are expected to offer the gifts for their lover on Feb. 14, but their men have to return the sentiment March 14.
And finally, two facts that may actually prove my husband right: Men spend almost twice as much on Valentine’s Day than women do — the average for men is $150 while the women’s bills stand at $85 — and more than one-third of men would rather not receive a gift at all for the “Hallmark Holiday” — while less than 20 percent of women feel that way. Hmmm, maybe he is on to something.