Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.            

Valentine’s Pressure

Remember when life was simpler? This could be an opening for just about any subject, but in this case I’m referring to Valentine’s Day.

Think back to your childhood, when you could show your affection by cutting out hearts from construction paper and making your own card. You would have decorated shoe boxes in your classroom and waited to see who wanted you to be their valentine, and vice versa.

Things have gotten so much more complicated – and expensive. Data from the National Retail Federation forecasts that we’ll shell out $17.3 billion this Valentine’s Day.

That’s an average of roughly $126 a person. If we split the tab by gender, men outspend women by a 2:1 margin – $108 for men versus $49 for women.

How do we show our love? Here’s the breakdown by the numbers (source: National Retail Federation):

* 52 percent will buy a card
* 48 percent will buy candy
* 37 percent will give flowers
* 37 percent will go out for dinner
* 19 percent will buy jewelry
* 14 percent will give a gift card
* 26 percent will do their shopping online

I sometimes feel sorry for the men I see dragging themselves into florists on Valentine’s Day to pay an arm and a leg for a dozen red roses. But the price they’d pay if they didn’t in the eyes of their significant other is certainly not worth it.

It’s not just a matter of shopping for your sweetheart anymore either. Gift-giving isn’t limited to couples.

The NRF tracks other Valentine’s purchases. We’re talking family members, friends, teachers, coworkers, kids’ classmates – and don’t forget the family pet. I like to think this is some conspiracy created by retailers to get us consumers to spend, spend, spend. Just what we don’t need when we’re still paying off our Christmas gifts.

Seriously, it’s hard enough to celebrate your own valentine without the added pressure of remembering so many others. I sometimes dread going to my son and daughter’s mailboxes at preschool because I know all the thoughtful parents will have left something there for them. I feel like a heel when I don’t return the favor.

Putting together gifts for kids used to be simpler, too. Where is Price Busters when you need it? It was the ultimate one-stop shop to stock up on knickknacks such as crayons, stickers, tattoos and toys for the little ones on your list. I have to come up with a Plan B.

I don’t mean to take the air out of all those heart-shaped balloons. I’m just reminiscing about the good ol’ days when love wasn’t measured by money.