Entire aisles at grocery stores are decked out in red and pink. Every other television advertisement is for diamonds and local flower shops have increased the size of their storefront banners by 200 percent. It's Valentine's Day once again.
Just utter the V-word in a group setting and it will be pretty easy to figure out who is part of a couple and who is single. All those paired up will casually mention their plans for Cupid's big day, while those still searching for Mr. or Mrs. Right will physically shudder at the thought of having to endure another Valentine's Day alone.
I've always felt pretty neutral about the holiday - whether I was single or in a relationship. To me it's more of a kids' celebration. I probably feel this way because I have warm memories of handing out Valentine's Day cards and decorating heart-shaped cookies during elementary school classroom parties.
As a grown up, I think that love between two people should be expressed year-round and not just on one day in February. However, a few statistics have persuaded me that celebrating Valentine's Day isn't just for children, but rather a civic duty.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau:
• 1,177 U.S. manufacturing businesses produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2009, employing 34,252 people. California led the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 135, followed by Pennsylvania, with 111.
• 409 U.S. establishments manufactured nonchocolate confectionary products in 2009. These establishments employed 16,974 people. California led the nation in this category, with 45 establishments.
• 24.7 pounds of candy was consumed per capita by Americans in 2010.
• $375 million in combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers was reported in 2010 for all flower-producing operations with $100,000 or more in sales. Among states, California was the leading producer, alone accounting for more than three-quarters of this amount ($286 million).
• $17 million in combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut roses was reported in 2010 for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales.
• 24,973 jewelry stores in the United States in 2009 offered engagement, wedding and other rings to couples of all ages. In February 2011, these stores sold $2.27 billion in merchandise.
After reading these statistics every person - single or not - should rush to the store and buy as many Valentine's Day chocolates, flowers and heart-shaped necklaces as their budget will allow. Show your spouse, sibling, best friend, mail carrier and favorite journalist just how much you appreciate them while spurring the local economy and creating jobs.
If every person gives at least five others a Valentine's Day present, the economy could rebound just in time for Easter candy sales.
The next time your sweetie tries to brush off buying you a Valentine's Day present, let them know that you support job creation and his or her attitude is downright un-American!