A Valentine’s Day challenge

DKS Editors

Chances are, you’re on a hunt. You’ve been struck by Cupid, and with only two days remaining until Valentine’s Day, you’re on a mission to find the perfect gift for your lovely lady or great guy.

You’ve hit Kay Jewelers. You’ve strolled the aisles of Best Buy. You’ve even scoped out all the flower shops in the designated ZIP code.

Unfortunately, your wallet – and those of many other Americans – may not be able to handle the extra spending this year. And that’s OK.

Last year, the 28,300 jewelry stores across the United States sold $2.6 billion worth of merchandise in February, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Now, Ohio’s unemployment rate has risen to 7.8 percent and a half-million Ohioans are out of work, the Plain Dealer reported earlier this week.

Clearly, now may not be the ideal time to spend a fortune on your significant other. Some may call it jump-starting the economy, but let’s face it: Why spend money you don’t have? That’s what got our country into this mess in the first place.

Legends differ as to exactly who St. Valentine is – a priest who married young lovers in secret to keep men from becoming soldiers, a martyr who helped Christians escape torturous Roman prisons or a prisoner who fell in love with a girl and signed a letter to her “from your Valentine.”

Even so, all legends contain a common thread: a person committing a kind gesture, no money involved.

This year especially should be a time to put the meaning back into Valentine’s Day. Going overboard on a fancy gift may not mean as much as a simple, kind gesture.

Think back to elementary school. We would all be excited for that hour-long afternoon party where we’d give each other valentines and devour any candy in sight. At the time, those parties seemed like a big deal.

Somewhere along the line, however, most of us adopted the notion that a gift isn’t good enough if it’s not a precious gemstone or an expensive electronic wrapped with a giant, red bow. We’re the product of American consumerism – and materialism.

The plunging red line monitoring the stock market every day means we need to change that mindset. We might as well start with the holiday – only second to Christmas – that’s known for its lavish gifts.

Give your significant other a heartfelt gift, such as a homemade card, letter or baked good. And if you’re really looking to spread the love, do something beneficial for society in the name of St. Valentine: Smile at a stranger. Help an elderly person. Volunteer your time at a charity.

It’s great to profess your love to a significant other, but in times of economic distress, there are many other people who could benefit from an extra good deed.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.