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beyond hearts 
& f
lowers 7 better ways to 
say "I Love You"
| 1 2 3

Yesterday at Safeway, I was attacked: an army of monstrously gaudy magenta and crimson helium-filled hearts, tethered on matching ribbons, lunged towards me as I rounded the corner at the end of the produce aisle. The message was clear: Valentineís Day is on its way.

Now donít get me wrong ó I love Love as much as the next romantic. Thereís not a morning when I wake up that I donít realize how incredibly lucky I am to be this much in love. I am, like most people, a serious sap at heart. So I do think itís kind of nice that thereís this one specific day of the year thatís been set aside for the express purpose of encouraging us to let our loved ones know just how much they mean to us. But thereís something about the sight of endless aisles of pre-printed Valentineís cards, red-foil-wrapped chocolate boxes, Hersheyís kisses, and conversation hearts proclaiming "Fax me" and "Hot stuff" that really rather repels me. Does anyone actually buy those misshapen little teddy bears with the "I love you" sweaters, except as a joke?

Itís not just the cheap trinkets, either, that bring out my Valentine Scrooge instincts this time of year. All the magazine articles tout tips on "10 Extravagant Valentineís Day Getaways" and "15 Splurges Heíll Really Appreciate," and thereís no avoiding those ubiquitous "Diamonds are forever" ads. Maybe Iím a freak because I donít want diamond earrings, a mountain of long-stemmed red roses, or a spa weekend, but my poor-but-devoted heart canít help but be offended by the implication that the classy way to prove your love it to spend more money than you can really afford. Some of the best gifts Iíve ever given or received didnít cost any money at all Ė neither cheap nor expensive, they were unique, thoughtful and completely priceless.

So skip the mall this Valentineís Day. When it comes to giving your love the perfect gift, all you need to do is put in a little effort, set aside a good chunk of time, and tap your creativity reserves Ö

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