Flowers vs. Jewelry



Nothing is more permanent than true love. And nothing is less permanent than a flower. Which somehow makes a bouquet of roses the perfect Valentine's gesture for those who have realized — or are striving for — amorous bliss.

Jewelry tells your loved one how much you're willing to spend. Candy is a sweet salve for the gray, late-winter days when we need to dance a little, even if only our taste buds. A candlelight dinner will always warm, though the charms of emptying a plate can be lacking. But flowers — via the eye, nose, even skin — command a one-way, non-stop pathway to your lover's heart.

It's precisely the multisensory power of a fresh bouquet that captures our fascination in the times we celebrate (and yes, suffer) the most. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, retirements, and alas, funerals, are provided atmosphere through the floral messages of those who love us. Imagine a child's face without a smile. Such would be the world we live in — and the times we celebrate — without flowers.

Flowers were the original palette, Mother Nature's template for the potential of natural beauty. The yellow of a sunflower, the red of a rose, the purple of an iris. They are what made the Impressionists daydream, and what make our more conventional dreams present themselves — when we're lucky — in technicolor.

And Valentine's Day is a good day to remember the origin of beauty as you gaze into the eyes of the one who personifies the concept for you. A single rose left on a dresser will do the trick. A bouquet to center the dining table will make the main course seem ancillary. A few petals left in the right hallway will do more for your evening than any Meg Ryan romantic comedy. It's the passionate heart's confetti, you might say.

But flowers are not permanent. Smell them, touch them, gaze upon their extravagance. And remind yourself: that is the kind of beauty this person brings me every day.

— Frank Murtaugh



Another year, another Valentine's Day. I'm not sold on the fact that anyone (aside from Hallmark's CEO) actually loves the idea of one day celebrating love.

But this is not the space for that issue. No, this is where, without a doubt, I explain why jewelry makes a much better gift than flowers on this holiday.

Flowers are gorgeous. They smell fantastic and take a space from good to great in an instant. Flowers, in my opinion, aren't given often enough. They tell someone you love you're thinking about them, and should be given year 'round. For no reason.

But jewelry, now, that's a gift for the moments that matter.

Before you think me greedy or materialistic, let me clarify: I'm not saying the more you spend on a gift, the better. (A necklace I got one year and now wear at least twice a week cost less than the flowers that accompanied it.) I'm saying, for a special occasion, give something that won't be dead in a week.

Many decades ago, my grandfather gave my grandmother a beautiful gold coin necklace for Valentine's Day. A few years later, he gave her a gold locket with inset diamonds. Gorgeous, both. When we lost my grandmother last year, my cousin and I were surprised to find we'd each been given one of these pieces of family history. (I'm actually wearing mine in my editor's photo.) I wear it not only because it's a gorgeous vintage locket, but because it reminds me of my family. How lucky we've been. How much love there was and still is. Sappy? Maybe. But no pile of crumbled rose petals could ever take its place.

Guys, as long as you tell us you love us (and act accordingly), and acknowledge us in some meaningful way on Valentine's, we're cool. But let's be honest, if you have a daisy in one hand and a diamond in the other, guess which one most women are going to pick? Heck, if you have a candy bar in one hand and a daisy in the other, you're probably still going to be left holding that flower.

What really matters when it comes to gift giving is put-ting thought into the gift you give. Just make sure you give something that lasts. Your grandchildren will thank you for it.

— Mary Helen Tibbs

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