Kansas City, Mo This Valentine's Day, thoughts of terrorism and war are on the minds of many Americans shopping for their loved ones, and cardmakers have taken notice.
"Right now, we are more conscious than ever that we have to take every opportunity to say 'I love you,' 'You are important to me' and 'This is the way I feel,' to other people," said Sharon Valleau, a writer for Hallmark Cards Inc.
That may not translate into increased sales at Valentine's Day, but Valleau and other Hallmark writers said they do consider the uncertainty Americans are feeling when crafting cards. Still, people shopping for valentines are unlikely to find any that deal directly with terrorism or war.
"We have to be subtle about that," said Hallmark writer John Peterson.
Instead, Hallmark emphasizes different emotions. For example, people are feeling especially grateful for their loved ones, Peterson said, so gratitude shows up as a major theme in valentines.
"That's something that we definitely worked into several of the cards that we did," he said.
Reconnecting with loved ones is another theme that shows up in Hallmark's valentines this year.
For example, for busy consumers seeking to spend more time with their sweethearts, Hallmark is offering eight new cards this year. One provides a day planner in which couples can schedule time together. Another offers a slot for tickets to anything.
"When asked what's most meaningful, people say a card and spending quality time together, spending romantic time together," said Susanna Reith, associate product manager for Hallmark's Valentine's Day line.
Marita Wesley-Clough, a trends research and expert for Hallmark, said Americans have turned away from "casual everything" and were paying more attention to their relationships. People have become more aware, she said, of the need to nurture their relationships.
"I think it's very important, especially in times like these, where we're all so stressed. Anxiety is quite deep right now," Wesley-Clough said.
Rochelle Lulow, an editor and writer for Hallmark's chief competitor, American Greetings Corp., agreed that people were paying more attention to their relationships -- and not just their romantic ones.
Hallmark operates a production facility in Lawrence that employs about 860 people. It's the largest private employer in the city.