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Today is Valentine's Day -- a one-day festival of love and affection.

It's probably the first of all occasions that called for greeting cards way back in the 16th century. Millions will be sent today. Lots of candy will be shared. And today is second only to Mother’s Day for the floral industry.

All the hoopla over love on this day can, however, have a down side.

Llewellyn King, executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS, points out in a column for InsideSources.com: “For some, Valentine’s Day is a day not of love but of profound, despairing loneliness.”

And loneliness kills. That is the bottom line on several recent studies, with King citing one by insurance giant Cigna that found nearly half of Americans report they feel alone, isolated or left out at least some of the time.

Releasing the study, Dr. Douglas Nemecek, the company’s chief medical officer for behavioral health, said, “Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.”

Thus while looking for ways to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day, what about reaching out to someone you may not have contacted in some time? It may be a friend, even family. Make yours a one-person mission to be sure someone else is not lonely on this day.

Hallmark writers have some advice on what you might say in a greeting, be it verbal or written:

For friends

• “Hope your day brings just what you want it to.”

• “Thanks for being the loyal and caring [friend] you are. Love you!”

• “Happy Valentine’s to one of my favorite people. Ever.”

• “Valentine’s Day and every day, I’m grateful for you.”

• “I hope you feel loved and appreciated on Valentine’s Day. Because you are.”

For family

• “I hope you’re feeling really loved today. You are!”

• “Hope your day is filled with reminders of how much you’re loved.”

• “Thanks for all you do that makes my life happier (which is a lot!).”

• “Valentine’s Day is all about love, and [Mom], there is no one better than you at spreading God’s love wherever you go.”

For a child

• “Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart.”

• “Love you bunches and bunches.”

• “Happy Valentine’s Day to one of our sweetest blessings.”

• “Missing you and sending you a big Valentine hug!”

• “Hope your day is just as awesome as you are!”

For your sweetie

• “Wishing the sweetest, happiest day to my forever Valentine.”

• “Especially today, I hope you feel how much I love you and how grateful I am to have you in my life.”

• “You take my breath away. Always.”

• “My heart is all yours.”

• “Thanks for being you and for being mine.”

The late T&D columnist Austin Cunningham summed up the possibilities of Valentine’s: “This one wonderful day gives a chance to improve relationships permanently.”

Take advantage of the opportunity.

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