This is Valentine's week - a time where couples and family members express their love for one another through special tokens of appreciation. Traditionally, florists are hectically preparing hundreds of bouquets, gift baskets, special candy or gift items for delivery on Valentine's Day, while local stores offering Valentine's specials are bombarded with customers.
A prediction of spending on Valentine's Day 2020, according to CBS News, averaged at $196 per person, with an overall revenue of $27.4 billion expected, an upward climb of 32 percent, according to the National Retail Federation's forecast.
Of course, there are always the romantics who wait until Valentine's Day to either become engaged or sometimes to hold their wedding on the traditional day of love.
We hear endless talk about how we should love everyone. The churches believe in it, the political philanthropists promote it; even the Grammy, Academy and Oscar winners blurt out the hope of love in their acceptance speeches.
Love seems to be the universal theme of all aspects of today's society, especially around specific holidays and special occasions.
During the Christmas season, the Laurel community comes out in full force to help those less fortunate with food, clothing and toy drives. Churches, businesses, organizations and individuals are willing to share their good fortune in order that others will have a good holiday season.
But love should be the universal message year-round, not just on certain occasions. Granted, sometimes it is more difficult to show love and respect for each other. It is challenging to feel positive emotions around someone who seemingly revels in despair and depression. It is hard to feel love for the person who nearly runs over you at a crosswalk - despite the fact that pedestrians have the right-of-way in those situations. It is emotionally wrenching to find sympathy in your heart for someone who has caused the untimely death of another person through neglect or outright disrespect for human life. It is frustrating to see people who bank on the efforts of hard working tax paying citizens without making any attempt to better their own lives. Equally discouraging is seeing many dedicated, loyal people toil day by day at jobs where they are neither appreciated nor rewarded - monetarily or otherwise.
With so much controversy and chaos in our world today, it is a constant challenge to see the positive.
It is heart-warming to be acquainted with so many people who freely give of their time to help others. Here in Laurel County, we have thousands of volunteers - firefighters, rescue squad members, event organizers, those who help with public as well as private celebrations and promotions that are oriented toward making London and Laurel County a better place to live. Despite the struggles they may face with fundraising, attendance and other issues that define "public event," their diligence prevails and our community is better for their efforts.
We have many things to be thankful for as residents of London and Laurel County, in spite of the many problems that face us each day. Sometimes we must look harder to find the good side of life, but if we look hard enough and stay strong in the faith of humanity, we can certainly see that love exists here every day of the year. It doesn't have to be with candy and flowers and expensive gifts. A kind word is worth more than money can ever buy.
Let's dedicate ourselves to finding the good - the love - that should prevail in our hearts and souls. Our world will be better for it.
Nita Johnson is a staff writer at the Sentinel-Echo. She can be contacted at email@example.com.