Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Harriette Wishes Readers a Happy Valentine’s Day

DEAR READERS: For those of you who celebrate, happy Valentine’s Day! This day has been reserved as a day to express your love and affection for those you hold dear. I like the overarching sentiment, even though I cringe at how product-driven the day has become.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the consumer mania of Valentine’s Day, I invite you to stop a moment and think about what else it can mean for you. If the highlight is love, can you think about those you love the most and get creative about how you celebrate them without falling into the trap of spending a pocketful of cash? A thoughtful call, a handwritten note, an invitation for a romantic walk, a shoulder rub -- all of these cost nothing, but count for so much.

I do not disparage those who purchase lovely treasures for their beloved, but I just think it isn’t a requirement.

When I was growing up, I don’t remember Valentine’s Day being a thing in my house. My parents were happily married, and they did pay attention to each other. But I’m blanking on any memory of red roses, chocolates or jewelry on that day. I want to say I noticed an extra kiss on the lips when my Daddy came home from work, but that’s me waxing nostalgic more than actually remembering.

Valentine’s Day took on greater meaning for my family when my father died. This larger-than-life man was born on Jan. 1 and died on Valentine’s Day. Go figure. He definitely didn’t plan it, but it happened nonetheless, and then, with time standing still, this day of love marked a day of death. My mother’s husband of 41 years was no longer. That peck on the lips was done. That sparkle in the eye that they shared, especially in their later years, was extinguished. That call to check to see if we were living up to our expectations no longer came.

In the more than 20 years since my father’s passing, we reignite that flame of love between our parents and their three daughters on this special day -- not with gifts, but with calls, with memories, with hugs, with blessings.

There is a song I love by Luther Vandross, called “Dance With My Father.” I think of this song and of the gift that my own father, the Honorable Harry Augustus Cole, gave to my sisters and me -- the ability to dance. What I wouldn’t do to dance with him again.

What does Valentine’s Day conjure for you? Dig deep to unearth a treasured memory that you hold about people you love. If they are still living, reach out and remind them of how much you care. If relatives are still with us, contact them to share whatever comes up for you. And for those you love right now, make sure they know your gesture of affection is real. The flowers that emerge from your heart are far more valuable than those that you buy -- that is, unless your store-bought rose is accompanied by your heartfelt embrace.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)