A woman compares and contrasts Valentine’s Day cards in northeast Philadelphia in 2018. The columnist notes the holiday card industry is no longer limiting its catalogues of Valentine’s Day cards to just wives and sweethearts.

THERE are two very important events this week.

Yesterday, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

Don’t ask me which one I think is more important.

I’m sure most men were aware of the spring training start, but I thought I’d better remind you guys about Valentine’s Day. I don’t want you to get in trouble.

Funny how Valentine’s Day works these days. Men send women candy and flowers, while women send Valentine’s Day cards to their children and grandchildren.

Oh, and men are expected to take their ladies out to dinner. Hey! What happened to all that women’s equality stuff on holidays like this? Shouldn’t these completely independent girls take their guys out to dinner and tell them just how lucky they are to have them?

Can you say “double standard?”

And what about this sending Valentine’s Day cards to your kids, grandkids and even grandmothers? Doesn’t anybody remember the rules? The cards go to your wife or sweetheart (or in some cases, both). Grandma is not your sweetheart unless you’re Grandpa.

But the greeting card companies couldn’t make money if people sent Valentine’s Day card only to their sweethearts. So they changed the rules. My children have never gotten a Valentine’s Day card from me and I assure you I never sent one to my grandma.

Does anyone even know who St. Valentine was? I had to look him up and found that he was a Christian clergyman in Rome who was killed on Feb. 14, 269. He is celebrated for his tradition of “courtly love,” according to one reference. “Courtly love” does not apply to your children or your grandma.

Anyway, this man’s demise turned into the Valentine’s Day that we now celebrate.

Now if you want to be really romantic, you can take your beloved to Rome and see his skull, adorned with flowers, on display in a church. There is no record of whether his heart was preserved.

Being the romantic that I am, when I think of Valentine’s Day, the 1929 massacre of seven members of the Northside Gang at a Chicago garage comes to mind.

It was always rumored that members of Al Capone’s gang did the killing, but no one is really sure. Machine guns were banned not long after that, although shotguns were also used in the crime.

Incidentally, one of those submachine guns was purchased by a deputy sheriff in 1924 and the other was bought legally at a sporting goods store two years before the massacre. Somehow they ended up in the hands of hoodlums, who likely stole them. Just thought you’d like to know.

So if a trip to Rome to see St. Valentine’s skull doesn’t suit your budget, then a visit to Chicago to see the Lincoln Park Garage (if it is still there) might make a more affordable Valentine’s Day night out. Either would probably be cheaper than dinner for two at a high-class restaurant, with flowers and candy on the side.

OK, enough sarcasm. Let’s get serious.

I came across a sad poem the other day that struck me as a true reflection of today’s society. It goes like this:

How I miss you being here with me

On these cold February nights

How we sat by the romantic fire

As the winter moon shone bright

You cuddled in my arms

And whispered in my ear

Telling me of your love

Saying words I longed to hear

Now your voice is silent

You’re in my arms no more

No more loving whispers

That made this old heart soar

At first I thought you dead

And wondered what I would do next

Then someone said that two years ago

You went upstairs to text

The fire is softly burning

But I am all alone

Cause while I’m dreaming of romance

You’re upstairs on the phone

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

​Donnie Johnston:

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