DEAR ABBY: Valentine's Day is once again upon us. As a single woman, I have recognized that even on this day one can feel completely left out of things. So, last year I started a new tradition with my single women friends.

On Valentine's Day we meet for dinner. We call it "Singles Appreciation Day." Last year we had a great time together, and this year should be even more fun.

Singlehood is not something to cry about. It's something to celebrate and enjoy, just as we would the state of marriage when we find the right person. People need to learn to appreciate the value of each phase of life as we enter it. For now, I am happily appreciating the stage of being single.

"" SANDY

IN NORTH HIGHLANDS, CALIF.

DEAR SANDY: I'm sure I'm not the only person who admires your positive and intelligent attitude about the journey we all make through life. Today, more and more people are choosing to remain single into their late 20s and 30s &

and Valentine's Day seems to have become less a holiday and more of a marketing campaign that makes the unattached feel adrift, alone and often depressed.

A wise person told me years ago that we are as happy as we make up our minds to be &

and I hope more singles will learn from your example.

DEAR ABBY: Last year on Valentine's Day I had many errands to run, so I started at my favorite coffee shop at 7 a.m.

At a table in front of me was an elderly couple who were already eating. I enjoy people-watching, and it was easy to observe them. The man was having trouble opening his little package of jelly. I almost went over to help him. Why didn't I? Because he was there with a lady. Sister, wife, friend? I couldn't see her left hand. If I had offered help, it might have embarrassed him. This was a buffet breakfast.

As I ate, I watched him make several slow trips for food. He put milk and sugar in her dry cereal. He cut her food and twice wiped her mouth with her napkin. He put sugar and cream in her coffee and stirred it.

When they finally finished, he helped her from her chair, helped her with her coat, straightened out her folding walker, held her arm as they left and helped her into an older model car.

That vignette made my day. Were they sweethearts? I don't know, but there certainly was a lot of love there. Not a word was spoken, but I'm sure the message was received. We could use more of that kind of "conversation" every day, not just on Valentine's Day.

"" S. FROM TENNESSEE

DEAR S. FROM TENNESSEE: The demonstration of love and commitment that you witnessed transcends any message that could be given verbally, or anything that could be written on a card. You saw a demonstration of the kind of commitment that is promised when people say to each other "in sickness and in health," but few people think through when they make that vow.

Your letter touched my heart, and I thank you for sending it so I could share it with my readers on this day that celebrates love.

DEAR ABBY: My 94-year-old mother, who lives in a nursing home, has had so much fun making valentines for all her grandkids &

ages 17 to 46.

She sent a picture taken of herself in a bubble bath and wrote, "I hope your day is as happy as I am here in this picture. Proverbs 15:15, 'For the despondent every day brings troubles; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast!' Happy Valentine's Day!"

I am so proud of her attitude.

"" KATHY

IN KENNEWICK, WASH.

DEAR KATHY: And well you should be. Your mother sets an example we should all be fortunate enough to follow.

Dear Abby is written by , also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.