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In Our View / Valentine's Day

'Money can't buy me love'

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Given the projected $18.6 billion in consumer spending tied to Valentine's Day this year, clearly the Beatles were misinformed when they suggested that "All you need is love, love ... love is all you need."
Turns out, some of us also seem to require jewelry, lingerie, flowers or candy to fully appreciate the depth of our partner's love. Valentine's Day can be a minefield for a lot of folks. Even those in established loving relationships can feel a certain amount of anxiety on this day designed to publicly display ones deepest emotions. That's not to mention the multitude of people who may dread this day for a variety of other reasons.
Thankfully, sage veterans of this holiday know that expressions of love could never be confined to the contents of a heart-shaped box. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of free or nearly free ways to celebrate the holiday that don't even require a certain someone special or significant other to enjoy:
•Perhaps it's obvious, but, worth repeating. Begin by loving yourself. Take time today to get your heart pumping with a leisurely stroll or a sweat-through-your-socks exercise class.
Spread the love: Check out the close-out racks and grab a box of those sappy cardboard Valentine cards. Spend a moment remembering that giddy grade-school notion that you need to select the perfect "I think I like you" sentiment for each person in your class. Sign the back and pass them out liberally to the random people you encounter today.
Surprise a barista, postal employee, school crossing guard or grocery check-out clerk. Fortunately, we're also celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week -- Feb. 11 through 17, allowing for additional time to go out of your way to make someone feel special.
•Remember your favorite kiddo(s). Today's the perfect day to model loving behavior and include them in the festivities. A heart-shaped cookie cutter can put a festive spin on lots of items including pancakes at breakfast, sandwiches at lunchtime and brownies for dessert. This is a time when imagination can serve as inspiration. Dress up and stay home for dinner and spend a few moments sharing one thing you love about each family member.
Remember your favorite older kiddo(s). A care package, sappy card or email to a military member or a college freshman will brighten what can be a lonely day and/or month.
As much as the economy could use the boost, celebrating Valentine's Day shouldn't be measured in how much money you spend. Thankfully, there are some terrific alternatives to candy, flowers and restaurant meals for folks who desire to "give their heart away" today.

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