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Column: To scripted love, I say Bah! Humheart!

This is not a column about hating loving. Just the opposite: I love being loved and I love showing love. What I hate is setting aside a day to honor the act of loving. Valentine's Day is one of the most-celebrated holidays. It is named for St. Va...

This is not a column about hating loving.

Just the opposite: I love being loved and I love showing love. What I hate is setting aside a day to honor the act of loving.

Valentine's Day is one of the most-celebrated holidays. It is named for St. Valentine, who was imprisoned for performing the marriage of soldiers who were forbidden to marry. While in prison he healed the daughter of his jailer, and before his execution (not a very loving act on the part of the jailer) he wrote her a goodbye letter and signed it "Your Valentine."

It did not take on its romantic flavor until the 15th century when cards, flowers and handwritten love letters were sent by lovers to one another. They were called valentines. In the 19th century, the handwritten custom gave way to the mass-produced greeting, and it is then that the day lost its meaning for me.

I am married to a romantic who has never failed to buy me a card. One year I was serenaded by a barbershop quartet that roams the Duluth and Superior area giving joy to many unsuspecting ladies. It was very lovely. One year, Alan and some work colleagues took us wives to the Flame Restaurant (now the Aquarium). We sat at a raised table that was set with chocolates and a rose at each lady's place. Again, it was very lovely. But, to me, love is better expressed as an everyday and ongoing conscious act -- and, sometimes, effort.

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Also, finding a card that says the right thing is impossible for me. I found a card for a husband that said, "When you hold my hand and share our dreams, my life is complete." Maybe so, but what I want is the one that says, "When I weighed 417 pounds after our son and my mother died the same year, you never lost faith that I would find the strength to regain my health and my purpose and you became my forever valentine."

I read a column in The Budgeteer by Sarah Livingston about a prescription against school shootings and a suggestion for better mental health for our children. Paraphrasing, it said that we need to spend more time with our kids, showing them love and interacting. How sad it is that this needs to be said. Yet it does, as I so often see kids at a restaurant given a cell phone or tablet to play games, while the parents talk before the food comes. What we need is the parent to get a drawing app, so that while they wait for the food they can interact. Then, instead of the card with the candy on the front that says, "You are my real treat," you could write the one that says, "I love the time we spend together."

Hal David wrote the lyrics to a song made popular in 1965, "What the World Needs Now" and he was right that "love, sweet love" is not "just for some, but for everyone." I read in the Duluth News Tribune that Teri Williams of Duluth makes mittens, caps and scarves, and hands them out to people who don't have any. She does not know them but she loves them. What the world needs is the names of the myriad other selfless people such as Teri who brighten the lives of those who need help. How brave she is to live her convictions. She is another forever valentine of mine, and her card would read, "Your acts of love brighten the world and your example is one for all to follow."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." This tells us all to look at a friend or life partner and see all the little things that they do that make us laugh a little because they are endearing or silly or cute: Your friend ends every conversation with, "Well, that's all I've got." Your husband says at dinner every night, "This is the best meal you ever made." Your child runs out the door and then rushes back to give you a last hug. These are priceless. How can someone using a book or computer program of phrases ever express the feeling you get from these moments?

I saw a card with a dinosaur that said, "You are dino-terrfic" for my grandson Nolan. However, I want one that says, "When Grandpa was having the chills from the flu and you came over with a blanket to make him warm and said, 'Here Papa, maybe this will help,' you were my favorite valentine." For my friend Wendy, I saw a card that said, "Friends are like snowflakes with none the same. That makes you the best." I like this better: "When I was in the hospital for nine days, you never failed to send me a cartoon or message every day to cheer me. For this you will always be my valentine."

And a card I saw for a son talked about the pride a parent feels for a grown child. While a true sentiment for so very many, I would want the one that says, "When you ask us to come and stay because you miss us very much, you become my forever valentine."

I am a 15th-century romantic and I feel the need to say "I love you" often and sincerely and personally.

I love you if you are honest. I love you if you are forgiving. I love you if you are selfless, and I want to be all these things. I have hope for tomorrow's promise and find warmth in yesterday's truth.

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And to Hal David, you are right that the world needs love. It is so simple that I have chosen to help spread the word.

Anne Scherer lives in Duluth. Her devotion to family and passion for fairness in all things large and small were well documented in her monthly columns in "The Senior Reporter" magazine and reprinted in the book "When Lilacs Bloom." Contact Ann at scherera@callta.com .

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