Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day Done My Way
by Jeanne Bonner
Georgia Online News Service

I celebrate Valentine's Day twice a year -- on Christmas and my birthday.

Those are the top two days each year that I want to love and be loved.

I think Feb. 14 – when the rest of the world celebrates Valentine's Day -- may just be the stupidest day of the year. I've always felt that way – in years when I've had a special someone and in years when it was just me, myself, and I.

First off, I don't want flowers or a box of chocolates. Flowers are best when they remain in the ground, and I can buy my own chocolate, thanks.

More importantly, I don't think that a national campaign designed to guilt a special someone into paying me attention elicits genuine love and affection.

It just produces guilt and a forced romantic dinner or a hastily purchased gift. And this year, as the state and the nation face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the push just seems in poor taste.

Don't get me wrong. I definitely expect a tasty meal and a thoughtful gift on my birthday and Christmas. But on Feb. 14, I say: at ease, soldier.

I suppose it's partly because I'm a feminist. But that's not the only reason I don't care for Valentine's Day.

It's also because Feb. 14 does not mean anything to me. Try as they might, the greeting- card industry and a thousand other companies that cash in on the annual cupid frenzy can't convince me that Feb. 14 is a special day.

Think about it yourself. You know how you feel when you learn a particular event will fall on your birthday? Inside you think, "That's my day!" It's a day when you remember childhood birthday parties, and you field calls from friends, and you go out to have a fancy dinner.

Or if you're Christian, think about Dec. 25. Does it get any better than Christmas morning for people who observe the holiday? After all these years of celebrating it, I find everything about the date – how the month of December looks in print and even the number 25 – just says, "Ooh, ahh, special day." It makes me think of shiny red wrapping paper and chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven and trimming the Christmas tree.

But Feb. 14? When I see or hear that date, I think of a national marketing campaign that unfairly targets primarily men and makes them do things they may not want to do.

The ad campaigns that invade the airwaves each year have been escalating. This year as Georgia ranks No. 8 in the nation for foreclosure activity, and thousands of people across the state are out of work, the cost of celebrating Valentine's Day has if anything increased.

The more you spend, the more romantic you are. For $60 a person (plus tax and 20 percent tip), you can dine at the Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah. But why not make it a weekend? For $900, you can spend two nights at the Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast in Clayton. Yes, you're reading right: that's the better part of $1,000 to spend a weekend in the north Georgia mountains.

But first prize goes to a spa chain in Atlanta. It advertises a couple's massage for $360. Putting aside momentarily the idiocy of getting a massage with your mate while another person is in the room – hard as that may be – let's think of all the other things you could buy with $360. An airplane ticket. A sofa. Maybe even some common sense.

But, men, you know what the message is. If you forget to buy something special, you aren't a good husband or boyfriend.

Says who?

As for me, I'm gearing up for Valentine's Day in my own way. I'm planning to go out to dinner and then see my favorite band on that special Saturday.

And by special Saturday, I mean the first one in March when I'll celebrate my birthday. Or as I think of it, the real Valentine's Day.

Jeanne Bonner is the senior business writer at Georgia Online News Service.   [full bio]

Editor's note: Hello, Georgia. Georgia Online News Service leads off today with a great business story on the innovative steps some condo developers are taking to sell units during the national financial crisis. The article, by business writer Jeanne Bonner, comes in two versions: If you're an Atlanta news organization, the article focuses on metro developers; for those elsewhere in the state, we have a version with the emphasis on other cities.

Bonner, who is prolific today, also has a column on Valentine's Day – it's not what you'd call sentimental, however.

Finally, for Soapbox today, Ralph Reed is back with a look at Barack Obama's opening days as president. It all reminds Reed of another president – can you guess which one?

As always, we'd like to hear from you. GONSO is an enterprise founded and staffed by more than two dozen leading journalists and media executives in Georgia. We're providing content free -- for a limited period. Newspapers, broadcasters, bloggers and websites are welcome to use our articles -- please credit the writers and the Georgia Online News Service.

Send your comments and any story ideas to executive editor John Sugg at You can also call us at 800-891-3459.

Today's GONSO

FOR ATLANTA: Sometimes you do have to reinvent the wheel – if you want to sell condo units in this real estate market

by Jeanne Bonner
The grand opening of Renaissance Walk, held last year, was not your average coming-out party for a 161-unit condo building. With the housing market in freefall, The Integral Group, which developed the building in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn area, is redoubling its marketing efforts, in the hopes it can turn buzz into sales. The condo complex has played host to a number of arts events since the grand opening, and a series of Webisodes will launch this month that showcase the performances at the promotional events.
Full Story

FOR AREAS OUTSIDE OF ATLANTA: Sometimes you do have to reinvent the wheel – if you want to sell condo units in this real estate market

by Jeanne Bonner
If you've logged onto the social networking site Facebook recently, you may have noticed to the right of your personal newsfeed a small ad for a condo in your neighborhood. The ads are one small part of the arsenal of strategies Georgia condo developers and real estate agents are deploying to move properties in this dismal housing market.
Full Story

Valentine's Day Done My Way

by Jeanne Bonner
I celebrate Valentine's Day twice a year -- on Christmas and my birthday. Those are the top two days each year that I want to love and be loved. I think Feb. 14 – when the rest of the world celebrates Valentine's Day -- may just be the stupidest day of the year.
Full Story


The Audacity of Hype

by Ralph Reed
The differences between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are legion. But like Clinton, Obama has misread his mandate and underestimated his opposition. His arrogance (I won, you lost), royalist pretense (don’t listen to Limbaugh) and faux bipartisanship (only three Republicans voted for his stimulus bill) are reminiscent of the early Clinton, who viewed power as an entitlement and governance as his personal destiny.
Full Story

Tomorrow's Budget
Murder In Oak Meadow
by Bill Osinski
What really matters to sports fans isn't the score – it's who is scoring with whom
by Paul Kaplan
Protecting Big Pharma from lawsuits isn't the way to build a healthy economy in Georgia
by John Sugg

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