Friday, Feb. 14 marks the day for lovers in America — that’s right, Valentine’s Day. But before you dig into your wallets and purses, fattening the coffers of businesses like Hallmark Cards, Victoria’s Secret and a plethora of florists or chocolatiers, you may want to consider if you can afford to indulge in this commercialized tribute to love.

If gifts serve as a means of confirming your love for someone dear, you’re going to need more cash this year. Consider that a dozen long-stemmed roses delivered to your sweetheart will set you back $140.73, give or take — an eight percent increase over last year, nearly $12 per stem. The bill for a candlelight dinner at a first-class restaurant has jumped 30 percent to $363, while the cost of a movie date is eight percent higher than in 2019.

Even a greeting card costs almost 17 percent more at $5.25 per card. Other items will also take a bite out of your disposable income: a men’s designer silk tie is 6 percent more at $175 while the price tags for a heart-shaped box of Godiva chocolates, a silk negligee and a one-ounce bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume, with prices relatively unchanged, will still cost $100, $68 and $325, respectively.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing bad about showering someone you love, or even someone you hope will one day love you back, with oodles of goodies. I just wonder if it’s the best way to celebrate that special, impossible to explain emotion called love.

Truth be told, the last time I even bought or sent a Valentine’s Day card was back in the late 80s when I was courting a beautiful woman, a great friend and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (the crimson and crème colors fittingly close to the signature shades of the holiday. In short order, she would become my wife and we would celebrate the birth of two healthy children — our daughter and our son.

Since then, I’ve tried to express my love in more creative, less expensive and more frequent methods than the once-a-year mad-spending associated with Feb. 14.

I’m a bonafide old-school brother and tend to use music and the lyrics of true love songs to convey my feelings. And you don’t have to be a professional wordsmith like me if you want to say something that really means a lot. You can borrow a few lines from some of the greats.

I suggest you begin with Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” followed by the Stylistics and “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”

Next — go with the incomparable Phyllis Hyman’s “The Answer is You” — trust, you will not be disappointed. Add to the mix, Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” as a testament of the things you’ll face, the hurdles over which you’ll leap and the conflagration that you’ll endure to be close to your sweetheart.

But if you’re having some problems in your love life, remind your beloved to stay away from naysayers and gossip mongers. Tell him, or her, to come to you if they’re unsure as to how much you care for them. In other words, as The Emotions advised, “Don’t Ask My Neighbors.”

So, you’ve almost tied the ribbon on your serenade or handwritten, heartfelt love note. However, to really seal the deal and settle down for some “tenderness.” I suggest you go back in the archives for a brother who once told me that every CD he’s ever written and produced was the result of his relationship with one special woman, Brian McKnight. His discography is long and powerful enough to put him on repeat for the night, but for my money I like “Never Felt This Way.” For the record, when Brian shared this insight, he added that each CD was not necessarily filled with songs of tribute to the same woman. You can evaluate that tidbit in any way feel appropriate.

There are a lot of ways to express love and you don’t have to go into debt to do it. Take it from someone who knows.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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