My Valentine’s Day card game is strong this year. I mean, I really picked a winner: clean, simple but elegant, sweet message. Just right in that Goldilocks kind of way.

Why the success? I had a coupon for $2 off V-Day cards from Kroger and I was afraid I would forget about it — “it” being the coupon, not the Valentine —so I went in January.

Not that romantic, perhaps, but I think we’ll agree on two things.

One, greeting cards have become shockingly pricey. If you’re not careful, you’re spending $8.99, which, even if it is for love, is $8 too much for me.

And two, successful Valentine’s selection requires some planning ahead. It’s a desperate day when you throw yourself into Kroger’s card aisle and all you see is a sea of empty pink envelopes, am I right?

I’ve been in that desperate, seasicky boat more than I’m comfortable admitting. Inevitably, you start feeling increasing dread that, because your card selection is paltry, your relationship is thereby doomed.

And what’s left behind is tough to look at. The cards are bent. The music box doesn’t work. The messaging is clearly problematic. Or — the worst — there are too many words.

I feel women in particular are prone to giving the overly verbose Valentine’s Day card. This is a selection that is so wordy there is no way the recipient can absorb its message in the 10 seconds we all allot each other to read a greeting card.

This forces the recipient to fake their reception of the offering, resulting in a wobbly smile and a tinny “Thank you!”

The overly verbose card often succumbs to doomed V-Day messaging as well, the kind in which the giver is hoping the card will be the ticket to fixing their broken relationship.

Listen to this one:

“The story of our love is told in moments.

Moments of warmth and tenderness

Where we find a home in each other’s arms.

Moments of understanding,

Where we prove we can work out any problem

as long as we listen to each other.”

It’s cards like these that give me the impression that the writer wasn’t really thinking of her husband, but of herself and what she would like for him to say her.

Then there are the V-Day cards featuring puppies, kittens and, sometimes, monkeys (but only baby monkeys; adult monkeys in greeting card land are wry, not sweet). I do wonder about the adult-age givers who habitually choose these cards. I feel like these people might likewise have inordinate affection for the scrapbooking aisle in Hobby Lobby. And a very active Pinterest account.

Nothing wrong with that, obviously, but it is a specific type of person who will choose to express their human love using photos of canines, felines and primates. What’s more, their messages are usually so sweet they’re liable to form cavities.

“You’re paw-some” comes to mind. “I ruff you” would be a second example.

Then there are the passive-aggressive V-Day cards whose message (you’re welcome!) includes a back-handed compliment. The best example I found of this this year was one that featured a cartoon depiction of a goofy man wearing a suit and tie.

“Happy Valentine’s Day to the CEO of our household,” it says on the front.

But open that sucker up and it reads, “Love, the President, Boss and Queen of the household.” This is accompanied by a cartoon depiction of a toothy, smug woman wearing a tiara and holding a gavel like it’s about to inflict blunt-force trauma.

We all know this is anger scantily dressed in humor, which never, ever works on Valentine’s Day.

Finally, there are the cards that get a little too sexy and make us all standing shoulder to shoulder in Kroger feel uncomfortable. I mean, I get that sex and love go together like peas and carrots. And, yes, sometimes greeting cards can be clever about that.

But in general, Hallmark conveys sexy by relying on two elements: cheetah print and that metallic sticker that is supposed to double as a mirror (front of card: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the sexiest of them all? Interior of card: mirror sticker). Sometimes there is a cartoon high heel (color: red. High heels are always red in greeting cards.) thrown in there for good measure.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but none of that makes me want to get it on.

But, this year at least, I can say with pride that I do feel good about my choice. And I’m not just talking about the card.


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