DEAR READERS: Happy Valentine's Day one and all -- and what better day to haul out my annual valentine to you, my Ten Commandments of Love!
Yes, Dear Readers, I actually had the chutzpah to write my own Ten Commandments. But it wasn't as though I was stealing from strangers -- I steal only from the best! One of my ancestors was privileged to have received them on Mount Sinai from the Lord himself. At least that's what the Good Book says.
I originally wrote two sets of commandments: one for men and one for women. Then I received a letter from Mandy Stillman, a lawyer and early feminist from Milwaukee, demanding equal rights for women and insisting that there be only one set of commandments.
She was right, of course. So how's this for a gender bender?
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF LOVE
-- Put your spouse before your mother, your father, your son and your daughter. Your mate is your lifelong companion.
-- Do not abuse your body with excessive food, tobacco, drink, or any foreign substance that goes into your arm or up your nose.
-- Remember that cleanliness is a virtue.
-- Permit neither your business nor your hobby to make you a stranger to your children. The most precious gift a parent can give is time.
-- Willingly share all of your worldly goods with your mate.
-- Do not forget to say, "I love you." Even though your love may be constant, your spouse needs to hear those cherished words often.
-- Remember that the approval of your spouse is worth far more than the adoring glances of a hundred strangers, so be true and forsake all others.
-- Keep your home in good repair, because out of it come the joys of old age (not to mention its resale value).
-- Forgive with grace, because who among us does not need to be forgiven?
-- Honor the Lord your God every day of your life, and your children will grow up and bless you.
Today, be a sweetheart. Call someone you love and say, "I love you." (Make two or three calls; who says you can't love more than one person -- in different ways, of course.)
Go through your closets and give all those clothes you've been saving until you lose 10 pounds to your favorite charity. Call someone who's lonely and say, "I'm thinking of you." Or, better yet, say, "I'll be over tomorrow to take you to lunch ... or to run some errands for you ... or to give you a ride."
Visit a sick friend. Say a prayer. Donate some blood. Adopt a pet. Will your eyes, your kidneys and all your usable organs to someone who can use them after you're gone. Forgive an enemy. Hug your teen-ager. Write a fan letter. Listen to a bore. Pay your doctor. Tell your parents you think they're wonderful. Spay your dog. Neuter your cat. Quit smoking. Drive carefully. If you're walking, watch where you're going.
And don't wait until next year to be a sweetheart again. -- LOVE, ABBY