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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s never too soon to think about what sorts of gifts to bestow upon your “beloved.” “Beloved” is a loose term. Too often, Valentine’s Day is associated with and exclusively targeted for what the Greeks termed as “eros” — the passionate, physical love between consenting, hetero, cis, white, conventionally attractive Christian adults between the ages 19-32 with a penchant for refurbished mid-century furniture and locally sourced natural fabrics. A target demographic commonly featured in Lifetime movies and “Love, Actually.”

But I prefer to consider all the other permutations of love. Such as “agape,” which describes one’s love for their fellow human, or of God. Unfortunately, we tend to forget our sense of “agape” most especially during rush hour traffic, presidential elections and sieges upon the Capitol. So, it is important to extend charity and compassion to your fellow travelers. For example, yesterday at Safeway I offered to let an old guy with a jug of milk go ahead of me in line. It’s important to make sacrifices for the common good.

And besides, “eros” type love and desire is exhausting. Even the Greeks were suspicious of erotic love. They felt it brought confusion and irrepressible feelings — that it “loosened the limbs and weakened the mind.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Personally, I don’t have this issue, because I’ve been with my partner for a decade. We’re best described as an old married couple, as in, “you’re so good together, so in sync, you finish each other’s sandwiches.” Yep, Fifty Shades of Grey Poupon; that’s when your relationship has officially entered the platonic zone, when the prospect of sandwiches becomes more exciting than sex.

Still, what’s the harm in celebrating Valentine’s Day? I mean, there’s chocolates, right? It’s just as important to demonstrate love for your sweetheart, your children, and even your co-workers, as it is to demonstrate love for the guy standing behind you holding a jug of milk at Safeway. Go ahead. Be random and terrifying. Tell the mail carrier you love them. Throw Hershey’s Kisses out the car window at pedestrians. Make your partner a sandwich for no reason, and then finish it for them.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day gift-giving, remember to keep it creative. Any knucklehead with two nickels to rub together can buy a heart-shaped box of candy. And no one is going to hold a grudge against you if they aren’t presented with a diamond tennis bracelet or an emerald tiara. It’s irresistible to gift your lover with a 25-cent plastic ring procured from the gumball machine at the local grocery store. Who said romance has to be expensive?

Many, many years ago, sometime just after the ice-age, my paramour gave me a big, juicy beef heart. And then prepared it for our Valentine’s dinner. Pretty goldarned romantic, no? Never underestimate the enchanting effect of organ meat. It’s better to stay home and cook, anyway. I mean, these days, especially, because of the pandemic. No one’s going to want COVID-19 for Valentine’s, I assure you.

Here’s some surefire Valentine’s Day gifts that say “gosh, you’re neat.”

Individually wrap bananas in aluminum foil and arrange them in a used Amazon mailer. They’re almost as nice as a specialty crate of pears from Harry & David’s.

A coupon to redeem for a romantic game of chess while role-playing characters from “The Queen’s Gambit.” Hubba, hubba, check mate.

A handmade knitted scarf made from yarn spun from your quarantine hair.

If you’ve been quarantined with your partner the last eleven months, they’re probably sick of you. Give them the premium Valentine’s gift of 24-48 hours of solitude.

A Netflix subscription. Ha! Just kidding. Of course, you already have one.

Hickory Farms is selling “love bites.” Because nothing says “soulmates forever” like a hunk of salami and a handful of cheddar wedges.

A new pair of quarantine sweatpants.

Stock purchases in whatever the next GameStop ploy will be.

A romantic votive candle that you light to discreetly signal your partner to make you a PB&J.

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book of essays Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s was a finalist for a Washington State Book Award. She enjoys composting and frisky walks through dewy meadows. Midge lives in Moscow.

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