Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday will both be celebrated on February 14 this year, perhaps proving love and commitment are two sides of the same coin.
Ash Wednesday for many local churches marks the beginning of Lent (A traditional, Christian season for fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday typically involves mixing oil and ashes from the previous year’s Palm Sunday branches and a cross being drawn on the participant’s forehead or hand.) Gladeville and Mt. Olivet United Methodist Churches Pastor Terri Johnson Gregory said the core of the religious holiday isn’t just subtraction but spiritual addition.
“Lent is not about giving up. I tell my congregation it is about what you are adding (to your life),” said Gregory. “More prayer. More time to fast and pray. You’re setting aside something so you need to replace it with something else.”
She stressed participants often set aside time for service to others, with an emphasis on service to the least, the lost and the last among us. Gregory said in spite of popular portrayals, the practice is about making room for a new habit by shedding an old one, with the time being used for reflection and “emptying” oneself. Ash Wednesday services typically include participants being reminded “from dust you came and from dust you shall return.”
“In Genesis, in the second creation story, God created humankind out of the ground. From earth, soil. That’s where we were created. It’s a circle of life, re-unifying with the creator,” Gregory said, noting the elements of commitment and love represented in Valentine’s Day are present in the context of God’s love and commitment to humankind present in Christ’s resurrection. Valentine’s Day Preparation is crucial to some local businesses and not so much for others.
CVS Pharmacy Store Manager Tim Lineberry said Superbowl LII hadn’t pressed the store into any unusual preparations for Valentine’s. Like many pharmacy’s with well-prepared “Over The Counter“ divisions, the brunt of the Valentine’s Day business hits two or more days before February 14.
Lineberry said Valentine’s Day business has been steady with sales stronger if the holiday falls on a weekday, which is the case this year. The busy store leads its district in sales, with some 4,000 prescriptions being filled remaining a strong generator of revenue.
Marking her second year in the business, Hillcrest Florist owner Christina Banks is feeling more confidence as she prepares for customers, all the while hoping unknown things like winter weather won’t halt deliveries.
“I think the rose bouquets will be the number one thing this Valentine’s Day,” said Banks. “There will be others who come in with specific colors and arrangements that they want. Their loved one’s favorite flowers and things like that. I think the candy bouquets are going to be popular this year. There are a lot of people who are allergic to flowers or just don’t care to get flowers.”
She said the candy bouquets also give them a wider range of creative options, including some of their loved one’s favorite things.
“I just know what more to expect this year. I’ve been able to plan ahead more. Last year I had no clue because I’d never worked in a florist shop before. So I just feel like we are more prepared this year. I have more work hands coming in to help. I plan to have a whole lot more stuff made up ahead of time,” said Banks. “This year we are going to have stuff made up. With it already made up, we can say if this is what you want, here it is. I hate to turn people away.”
A majority of her creations are special orders. People will want variations of flowers and numbers of flowers. The firm also does Teddy Bears, boxes of chocolate and bows with arrangements.
“We keep potted plants because a lot of times people want something to last, something they can sit out later on in their yards. I’m very optimistic this year. (She points to a large box filled with bows.) I’m ready. This year we’ll have interns from Carroll County High School, which we didn’t have last year. I have two who come in their fourth block and help out. I’ve taught them how to do the computer, take orders and people’s payments and that will be a big help.”
She said internships are an important way for participants to see if they will like small business, particularly during high-volume days with lots of customer contact. Banks said Valentine’s Day is really a peak day in the sales season.
“We do about the same for Mother’s Day but it’s a whole week stretched out,” Banks said. “It’s not just one day. People do not want Valentine’s Flowers delivered the next day. The next day is when we get the orders of people who forgot and are in the doghouse.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.