Sweet hearts, candy hearts: Love is in the air

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Love is in the air.

It’s Valentine month, heart health month, and it’s definitely the month for sweethearts and sweet hearts.

While generally writing about health and wellness, I always consider the joyful, fun side of being kind to our hearts. There is a sweet side to friendship, I think, that sparks that feel-good heartlight within.

It tends to show up on special occasions and holidays.  Sometimes you feel you just may as well indulge in a little bit of sweet pleasure during those times.

Enjoy the gift of tradition: a beautiful homemade heart cookie, given by a longtime friend — thinking of the time spent lovingly cutting out, baking, colorfully frosting it and transporting it to you.

Bite into and savor a luscious piece of chocolate, made with the finest ingredients by your favorite hometown chocolatier – in my case, Sweet Sensations in Fowlerville. I don’t get there often enough.

And, by all means, have some fun with candy hearts.  Do you love candy hearts?  XOXOXO?

A sweetheart of a cookie, a friendship tradition. "The greatest sweetener of human life is friendship." -- Joseph Addison

Time to take a look back at a column I wrote for the Fowlerville News & Views Feb. 15, 1999 issue about candy hearts.  Not a lot has changed since then, re these pastel confection collections, except maybe the sayings or flavors.  We’ll see. Here’s the retro look:

Candy Hearts (1999)

 By Susan Parcheta (from N&V column: Living…Happier, healthier, longer and better)

Candy hearts.

Here we are in the middle of Valentine month. Did you give or get any candy hearts? You know, the ones with all the cute sayings: “Be Mine” – “Kiss Me” –“Hey Dude.”

Necco Confectionary Company started it all back in 1901. Now a few billion each year find their way into our Valentine celebrations.  Somehow, it doesn’t seem like February without a few candy hearts around. While visiting friends last week, I was delighted to spot a dish of candy hearts – in sherbet colors — on the kitchen counter.

The inscriptions, they say, change with the times. A popular one nowadays is “Fax Me.” This year, I saw “My Love” – “Your Guy” – “Kid You” – “Only Me – “Love Me” – “Good Time” – “Forever” … among others.

Candy hearts are for the young, you say? A Greek proverb affirms: “The heart that loves is always young.”

Many years ago, there was a group for senior citizens in Howell (MI) called “The Young at Heart Club.” I thought the club was a neat thing, knowing that I was light years away from joining at that time. But, even then, I wasn’t sure I liked the name.

I don’t know if the organization still exists, but if so, I hope they’ve changed the name. I think that “young at heart” is a bit condescending when applied to older people.  It makes it seem like older people, senior citizens if you will (I’m skirting that category), should be lumped together as “young at heart.”

After all, some folks are cranky and obnoxious and unloving, no matter what age they happen to be. Besides, do we ever say “old at heart?”

Maybe I don’t like it because I’m just ahead of those baby boomers on my heels. And I probably think like they do. The thought of growing old is not something boomers want to entertain. I don’t think many of them would join a “Young at Heart Club.”

I also don’t like the term “Golden Agers.” Sure, maybe we deserve some respect when we get up there in years. But calling those “of a certain age” Golden Agers sure doesn’t help, to my mind.

Frankly, I’ve never thought much of lumping people into categories. I think even less of it now. We should always be encouraged to be “young at heart” throughout our lives.

One of my favorite “senior citizens” was a perfect example of the possibility of being “forever young.” Her name was Gussie. Some who might be reading this also counted her as a friend. She was a lot like my grandmas, both of whom remained “young at heart.”

So, it seemed natural for me to adopt Gussie as my “grandma.” While she’s no longer with us, having died in the spring of 1994, her effervescent spirit continues to inspire me. She was a “young thing” of 86. Too young, I thought, to leave this earth. I’d hoped she’d live at least another decade. For my kids, she was like a “great grandma.” They, too, caught her young-at-heart spirit.

Whenever I feel down, or think that life is getting to me, I often think about my “grandmas” – both related and adopted. I know their positive outlook contributed to their long, successful and influential lives. They radiated love and it came back to them.

Loving others…Valentine month is a good time to reflect on how we’re doing in that area.  It might be a nice idea to keep a jar of those candy hearts around all year…to remind us.

“My Gal” – “Lost Love” – “Oh You!” – “Let’s Go” – “Hear This” … and “Young at Heart” – “Always” and “Forever.”

Fast Forward to 2012

Oh, my. We now have “Tweet me” – “Text me” – “You Rock!”  Some of the interim additions since I wrote my column, according to Reader’s Digest: “Be My Hero” – “Heart of Gold” – “Cool Cat” – “URA Tiger” – “Chill Out” – “Get My  Drift” – “Top Chef” – “Honey Bun” – “Spice it Up!”

One thing I needn’t worry about: My “Top Chef” cookie baking friend will “Always and Forever” “Spice it Up” with her “Class Act” outlook and “Heart of Gold.”

From one friend to another: XOXO

Now, we need to keep thinking young, yes. That’s true at any age on the spectrum. The key, for health and longevity, is not only to think young at heart, but also to live as if you had a candy heart. If our heart remains sweet, in gratitude, lifelong, we’re better equipped to go with the flow, with less stress and more happiness.

Sweet hearts, candy hearts…love is in the air.

I think of these things now… now that I’m among the “grandmas” on the block. “XOXOXO” – it’s the love quotient that matters. The best heart candy is within. We can choose to love; we can be “EZ 2 Love.” We might even keep a jar of candy hearts around to remind us.

I still agree with that anonymous ancient Greek: “The heart that loves is always young.”

Candy Heart Links:

The neat thing about online blogging nowadays is that you can add informative links to accompany your blog, something I couldn’t do in 1999. I’m not sure you could even find Wikipedia, then, and I know I didn’t Google. So here are a few links to expand your knowledge of Candy Hearts, their history, and current sayings of the national culture.

Necco Candy SweetHearts

The American Classic Necco Fine Candy since 1847

Here are some sayings from the past decade

10 ­+ Years of Conversation Hearts

About Susan Parcheta 101 Articles

Susan G Parcheta dreamed of being an inspirational writer, even as heading off after college to a teaching job. While teaching was not her passion, words were — writing many years for Livingston newspapers, especially in the areas of education, health and wellness. The dream continues: to inspire creative, healthy living and to explore new concepts of body, mind, spirit. Her signature theme “All Things Beautiful” invites you to embrace the beauty and imagine the possibilities that life has to offer. She lives in Gregory with her husband, Jerry, and their fluffy, pointy-eared — and always lovable — cat, Spock.