Tom Blake

By Tom Blake

Recently, a buddy said, “As the finding love after 50 columnist, what plans do you have for you and Greta to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?”

I think he expected to hear me describe something fancy, such as a romantic evening for us at one of the nearby five-star hotels. Two of them—the Monarch Beach Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel—are within walking distance of our Monarch Beach home.

I hadn’t thought about our plans for Valentine’s Day—Greta and I hadn’t even discussed it—so I replied, “We’ll probably stay home. We might splurge by preparing a lobster dinner with spinach salad, and a glass of Big Churn, my favorite Chardonnay, topped off with a piece or two of See’s Candies. We’ll probably be in the sack by 10 p.m.”

Surprised at the modest plan, he questioned, “Churn Chardonnay?”

“Yup,” I said, “Seven bucks a bottle at Trader Joe’s.”

I added, “I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Granted, it’s good for the economy. However, greeting-card companies, restaurants, candy makers and flower shops mount such an overwhelming marketing blitz, I feel it takes some of the romance out of Valentine’s Day.

“Similar to New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day can make people without a mate lonelier than they already are. That’s why I avoid making Valentine’s Day a big deal in my columns. I don’t want the lonely people to feel worse.”

My friend’s questions reminded me that when I was younger, I experienced some lonely Valentine’s Days.

In a column I wrote in 1996, I said this about that day:

“I’ve taken a few romantic hits lately: divorce, rejection, etc. Funny, how sometimes life drags us through the gutter before it starts to improve.

“But, even though there’s no one special in my life on this 1996 Valentine’s Day, most importantly, I have my health, a nice roof over my head, and a job where I can eat when I’m hungry.” (That’s when I owned Tutor & Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point.)

Two years after writing that article, in June 1998, I met Greta, so the missing ingredient in the above paragraph entered my life. To us, every day is Valentine’s Day, so we don’t make a big deal out of Feb. 14. We appreciate very much what we have.

We both enjoy great families and lots of wonderful friends. And nice readers like you.

I think the most thoughtful thing people can do on Valentine’s Day is to reach out to those who may be spending the day alone. They might be lonely. Invite them to join you and your friends for lunch or dinner. Share the love of the day with them.

And look after them the rest of the year. Loneliness isn’t just a Valentine’s Day reality. It’s year-round.

The best thing about Valentine’s Day is it’s a day of giving—just like Thanksgiving—helping to make other people feel special and loved.

Oh, and by the way, a rose or an orchid is always appreciated.

Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: tompblake@gmail.com.

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