If you’re single, when’s the best time to buy Valentines candy?

February 15, of course!

Right up until 11:59pm on Valentines Day, all the candy still holds some sort of romantic promise. But by midnight, if it hasn’t been purchased, there’s a sadly non-romantic reason why. Unless, of course, what your Valentine loves about you is your frugality. In which case, waiting until the day after Valentines to purchase their chocolate would be the appropriate thing to do!

For us singles, it can be easy to feel like Valentines chocolates on February 15. Discounted. Cut-rate. Less than full price. No longer commanding prime display space. After all, customers don’t like to see leftover candy.

And speaking of candy, do you remember those Valentines Day parties from elementary school?

The night before, one of your parents would have gone to your local five-and-dime and purchased a cellophane-wrapped carton of assorted cheesy Valentines cards for you to distribute; one to each of your classmates. Maybe your parents would have also purchased some of those boxes of little pastel-colored, heart-shaped mints. They featured trite, brief sayings like “Be Mine” stamped in red ink on each one (remember the red dye that the FDA determined was dangerous to our health?).

Then on the afternoon of Valentines Day, some parents would come in to help maintain the chaos, and you’d have a Valentines party. It would kind of be like a fruit-basket-turnover, with you and your classmates roaming around to everybody else’s desk, putting individual cards on each one, like busy little letter-carriers. And maybe a sweaty fistful of those heart-shaped mints. By the time it was over, everybody had a pile of cards on their desk, maybe mixed with some of those now-sticky mints.

Back then, we were told that such revelry was fun. Looking back on it today, however, it seems to have been some nefarious experiment in equal affection run amok, doesn’t it? After all, how many of us “loved” our classmates? How many of us even wanted to befriend them all? How many of your classmates looked for cards from specific special persons of interest, while letting ones from your least popular classmates fall unnoticed – or worse, intentionally – to the floor?

Let’s face it – our society, by and large, doesn’t do a very good job with genuine affection, does it? We grow up from those staged classroom Valentines parties to develop some fairly mean-spirited prejudices and cliques, not just as high schoolers or college students, but as adults, and even as church-goers. And how many of us single Christians end up getting shunted off to the sidelines, like February 15th Valentines chocolates, or those cheesy, juvenile cards with mass-market sentimentality that get left on our classroom floor?

So here we are, after another Valentines Day has come and gone, and many of us probably felt like we had little to celebrate – except, perhaps, the good junk food bargains we were able to get on February 15th.

We don’t want to feel like society has discarded us, but sometimes, doesn’t it seem like we’re really worth only half as much as people who have truly found love? Whatever passes for love these days, anyway?

Meanwhile, how many people who have a Valentine purchase him or her something incredibly expensive more in the hopes of being rewarded, rather than out of a purely altruistic romantic compulsion? And how jealous of them – and embarrassed for ourselves – might we get as the Valentines festivities unfold year after year? As all the married or “spoken-for” women in the office were getting their big bouquets and enormous teddy bears delivered to their desks on Valentines Day, were you hiding in the breakroom, trying to look preoccupied with the leftovers you brought for lunch?