Valentines day, a day to send flowers, cards with hearts all over them… give chocolates; and for some who can afford it, give diamonds and other glittery things.

Have you ever wondered why we have assigned certain days to express certain thoughts and feelings when every day is an opportunity to do so?

What’s the reason to set aside a date to express love and caring or appreciation?   Secretaries day for example, or mother’s and father’s day, or anniversaries and birthdays?

Oh ! I know we can be distracted by stress and the demands of work, and juggling personal and professional responsibilities. We have a lot to do. Surely they know we care! But how long does it take to say,” I love you”?  Or show it in a surprising or unusual way any day?How long does it take to give someone you love a quick heart-felt hug, or a loving touch of some kind, or a few words of appreciation?Seconds?

How long does it take to write a few lines on a piece of paper and leave it where your loved one can’t miss it, or where a special coworker or friend can read it?

Or send an email with the subject reading, “Because I care…”

Or call on the phone saying, “I couldn’t wait to tell you how much I appreciate you in my life.” Or deliberately leave it on voicemail; that’s a nice message to get from anyone in your life.

Those gestures don’t take nearly as long as it takes to choose that special greetings card or order flowers, or go pick out a gift.

“ But that’s the point,” you might argue, “ It’s the time spent looking for the right card or gift that expresses your depth of caring that makes it special.”

Yes, doing the most expensive and time-consuming thing to make your feelings known is always appreciated on special occasions.

The question again is, “What’s the reason we need special occasions to do it?”

Fact is we don’t.

I read so many cards that say, “I know I haven’t told you often enough…..and then come the words of affection etc:

Lovely… no question about that.

However, that’s the very point I’m making, “I haven’t told you enough…”

I have often been asked, what is the secret of being happily married to Don (my husband) for almost 56 years now. There is of course no one reason. However, there is one underlying element; that  is that daily we express our love and appreciation for each other. Not just verbally but in other ways of course.

There was a time when we were building the Elaine Kissel Hypnosis Center, when although we worked together, we had very little personal “just about us” alone time. So I would sketch a cat that would have a cute expression and write a fitting caption ; * I wanted him to know that I was thinking about him often even though we were both so busy caring for other people.  I’d write something briefly to match the cat’s expression, expressing my gratitude for all he did to support my work; and how well he worked with our clients to make their schedules of therapy work best for them; and the other myriad things that facilitated our success.  And he would often buy me a little gift or have flowers on my office desk or in my therapy room for me. Once, as a surprise he had a massage therapist to come to our office for me during my dinner break! Those kinds of thoughtful gestures were more important to me than Valentines cards, or special occasion gifts, because they were surpises,  unsolicited by advertising to remind him to communicate his love and caring. They were spontaneous expressions that told me I was in his mind and heart all the time.

Those were the kinds of caring and thoughtful things that enabled us to balance everything else in our lives. Our children developed the same gift for spontaneous and thoughtful giving we demonstrated. There are so many objects that sit on my shelves from all of them, not all of them dutifully given on days marked for giving. Some are little things, little poems in frames, for example, which are huge reminders of their caring.

There is no time like the present, and you don’t need to  a present  give  a present  to make it a memorable heart-felt moment. For this moment will never come again, And  even though you may have cards and gifts that remind you that you are loved and cared for, and appreciated by others, I will make an educated guess that the spontaneous and regular  expressions of caring are those you treasure most, and will be treasured most by others.

It is often said that it’s the thought that counts. I have heard the adage that actions speak louder than words, and it is indeed wonderful to be remembered with a card of gift on Valentines Day.  However, I don’t want to neglect mentioning that words spoken or hand written also have great value, and last forever in the minds and hearts of the receivers.

So offer someone close to you some words of affection or appreciation  every day, or at least more often than you have in the past,  and watch his or her eyes light up and a frown change to a smile. That’s your gift in return, you know.

Happy Valentines Day, and every day, from Elaine Kissel

*He still has those sketches in his filing cabinet, so he must see them now and then as he is looking for other things. And even if he doesn’t see them often, he knows they are there, among the growing stacks of other notes and anniversary and birthday cards, father’s day cards and Valentines Day cards I have given him.