Musings and Amusings

My doorbell rang a week before my birthday, intruding on my comfy silence.

* cringe *

Isn’t that always an introvert’s involuntary reaction?

Fortunately it was the UPS guy in his behemoth brown truck already turning the corner at the end of the block, racing his way to the next doorbell on the next porch.

I picked up the package addressed to Hub; walked down the hall to where he was sitting on the couch; and playfully asked, “Is this my birthday present?”

It is,” came from behind the newspaper.

What is it?” I teased.

It’s the replacement toilet seat for the one that got cracked.”


toilet seat


Two facts about our marriage:
1. We like humor.
2. We don’t buy each other ‘have to’ gifts.

What are ‘have to’ gifts?

The birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day conventions that dictate you show your love with gifts on these days. I’m not judging those who celebrate with flowers, candy, and jewelry because they are meaningful expressions of love for many couples.

Just not for us.

I much prefer spontaneous, unexpected gifts on non-event days, although traditional gift-giving days have created some gold nuggets in our family lore.

When I was four – back when we had thriving main streets with a movie theater, a soda shop, and hardware, clothing, pharmacy and ‘Five and Dime’ stores within a 3-block stretch – Mom gave each of us a quarter and let my older sister and me walk to the ‘Five and Dime’ to buy birthday presents for Dad.

I bought him this postcard:


And a receipt book:


2014 Version



The postcard has travelled back and forth between Dad and me as a ‘laugh’ for 60 years, sometimes appearing in family photos or other unlikely locations.

Although I didn’t understand his job at the time, Dad was an accountant and I became an accountant and finance professional myself. I still like to look at receipt books and ledger paper in the office supply store.

Like the toilet seat Hub gifted me, Mom received tokens of Dad’s love through the years including a rototiller, a riding lawn mower and a washing machine.

Yup. Hub and I are carrying on the family tradition of ‘It’s the Thought That Counts’ gifts.

My grandkids have gifted me rocks, dried seeds and countless crafts. The usual – but nevertheless cherished – stuff, all of which is crammed onto a three-shelf display stand in my kitchen to get pawed over each time they visit.

Solidifying family memories of who, when, where.

My favorite gift from Sparks was when he asked me to participate in his ‘Now & Then’ school project – interviewing an older family member to compare my youth to his. Of his six grandparents, he chose me; and the time we spent discussing the interview questions and compiling this book are a gift I treasure.


Now & Then


Raqi has shown her love for Hub and me through many spontaneous gestures. When she was three years old and we were saying our goodbyes at their front door,ย “Wait!” she suddenly cried and scurried into the kitchen.

She hustled back with two single-serving peach paks from her snack cupboard.

“Here, Mima, Papa. For YOU!”

Shortly after, Hub and I were moving to our current home. Raqi had decorated a blue (now-faded) frog at daycare and gave it to me one night at their house.



As we were leaving, she held out her hands, “Mima, give me the frog.”


“Wait till big truck. I bring it.”

Raqi had no experience with moving nor had any of us talked to her about the moving process. She brought the frog on her first visit to our new home and carefully placed it on the top shelf of the display rack.

Some people have an angel watching over them. I have Raqi’s frog.


Comments on: "It’s the Thought That Counts" (67)

  1. That’s my reaction to the doorbell too. I’m a shy extrovert! ๐Ÿ™‚ (or some sort of thing)
    Mick buys me a bouquet for the anniversary each year (he’s afraid I’ll sulk if he stops- and I might) but we don’t bother much with Christmas presents and the like. Boring, practicalities yes- walking boots, etc. But I can be a sentimental slop too, and I love your postcard. I’ve become a charity shop lady and delight in ‘recycling’ these days. Bless Raqi- what a sweetheart ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Jo. I love a good recycle shop – sometimes browse when we’re passing through a town – found a great ine in Santa Fe! It took me about 10 years to convince Hub he didn’t need to buy me flowers on Valentine’s Day. As a sometimes way-too-frugal keeper of our finances, I kept thinking we could have socked away that few dollars for retirement!

  2. Sammy, hello! How have you been, it has been such a long time (very sorry!), hope you’ve been keeping well. I’m properly back to blogging now, not like my last hit and run. The book is all written and getting polished up so I’m easing off on the writing for a bit…and therefore returning to blogging! Yay!

    And what a lovely post to come to your blog to! I love the deadpan humour from your husband by the way ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’m definitely with you on the cringe. I cringe at the doorbell, the phone, even unwanted alerts from social media. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a button we could switch on to tell the world that yes, we are receiving, or off to say no we are having private time, go away.

    As a child I would write my grandmother magazines – and by that I mean I’d copy a page from a magazine, pictures and all, and give it to her. A useless gift if there ever was one, but she loved them. It’s the weird and random presents that stay with you rather than the traditional ones, isn’t it? Like you say, it’s the thought that counts and a present that someone invested lots of time and effort in means a lot more than the money spent (if indeed there was money spent)
    Raqi’s frog is so cute by the way, I love its massive goggly eyes. But then, being French, I’m all about the frogs.

    • Yay! You’re back. That means your book project is going well. I’m excited for you, Celine.

      That is such a sweet gift and memory of what you shared with your grandmother. If she’s anything like me, she would have studied the pages to figure out why you chose those specific ones. And sometimes when you weren’t with her and she missed you, she would hold the pages, knowing that your little hands had touched the same spots. Nothing better than that kind if love.

      • It is going well, thank you Sammy! It’s becoming quite real now which is awesome and scary in equal parts.

        The relationship between grandparents and grandkids is so special isn’t it? I have the best memories of summers with my grandparents.

  3. What a wonderful post! Loved reading this – I’m the same when the door goes or the phone rings…lol! We do usual presents but are similar to you in that we do spontaneous funny things too. Best present hubby gave me was a bag of plastic birds he’d got free from work – a little joke about crafty people putting birds on things from “Portlandia” they’re dropping to bits but are still proudly displayed around the house! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I love this idea of gift exchange. The hubs and I don’t do too much either. After so many years together, there’s not much a couple needs. As you say, it’s the unexpected gifts that carry more meaning. Like an unexpected chocolate treat from my favorite chocolate shop. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Exactly! You’re right, after a number of years it’s even harder. I typically go on a book-buying spree around Christmas and usually can find a couple of good ones for Hub to put him to sleep on winter afternoons ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. So love this! I have issues with obligatory gifts myself (bosses day comes to mind). Soon after my then young and (still) handsome husband and I moved into our first home Valentine’s Day rolled around. When the carefully wrapped box he handed me produced an electric paint stripper I was not at all amused. We lived through that one. Now, after 35 years of marraige I’d love a gift like that. Now I get roses. (Not that I’m complaining.)

    • LOL Sounds like you got him trained!! I have hurt a few people’s feelings thru the years when I thought they would appreciate a quirky present and they didn’t, so I learned from that.

      In my nuclear family, if someone leaves a non-essential at someone’s house on a visit, we often wrap it up for the next Holiday.

  6. Very touching post! Those kinds of spontaneous gifts, the one’s with emotional weight are the best.

    Hubby and I don’t exchange gifts, either. We might get one another birthday cards, but it’s not a big deal. When he and I were “courting” he gave me a picture of a bird. That was sweet.

    • That is sweet, Maggie! I love your ‘courting’ term ๐Ÿ™‚

      We have given each other lots of mushy cards and cried tears of joy as we read them, although now we just pull out prior ones and re-read them and try to remember what we were doing during the original year.

  7. So sweet! And the comments are interesting too – seems that lots of couples stop the obligatory gift-buying! I buy OH a token gift – often something fun like a miniature aeroplane made out of recycled tin for our 10th (tin) wedding anniversary. I have been ‘saving’ my birthday and Christmas presents for a new camera – just have to decide which one, which for a Libran is difficult ๐Ÿ˜†

    • Hi Jude! I wish we’d started that tradition for our earliest anniversaries – at least knowing what the symbol was each year. That is a loving tradition you have!

      What’re you doing with your old camera? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Now I’m jotting a To Do note – “what the heck are those Librans all about?”

  8. cardamone5 said:

    My husband laughs whenever he see me descending the stairs (in the middle of the day, sometimes before noon) fresh from my shower in…pajamas. I will have been up for hours at this point and done my chores, which is why I can shower. That’s why I hate it when the doorbell rings, ’cause my dirty little secret, that I wear pajamas throughout the day unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out will be revealed.

    Love the frog. Precious.


    • A ha! Busted :-). I do that sometimes on cold winter days – just wear my warm jammies and slippers all day. Of course my dilemma with the door is “shoot, I’m not wearing a bra and this shirt … Isn’t…black!”

      Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth โค๏ธ

  9. I gave my wife a rototiller for Mother’s Day two years ago to replace one we hot her back in the ’80s. She loves being able to till her garden, her way. Those are the best gifts. You made md smile talking about the 5&10. You described our street perfectly ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I KNEW you’d gotten your wife a rototiller AND that she was ok with that ! And people wonder how we can “know” each other online ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks, Dan. I miss the ‘Five and Dime’ and Dollar General just doesn’t cut it!

  10. I SO share your sentiments about gifts.
    I love to give memories and experiences.
    For this Father’s Day, their birthdays and Christmas, I’m taking my 87 year old dad and wife to radio city’s Christmas show, dinner, overnight stay in hotel, morning at the museum of natural history, lunch at Tavern in the Green and round trip transportation from Massachusetts. They don’t need more stuff at this stage of life! And I have decided it is perfectly okay to lump all the gifts together.
    My husband and I give each other the gift of travel, dictated by whenever is the best time to go…not when culture or Hallmark says it is time.

    • Oh, Shelley, that sounds like a wonderful trip – you’re hitting so many NYC highlights at such a festive time of year. Just perfect!

      When my parents had their 50th anniversary, we 4 ‘kids’ flew home from various locales – without our spouses – and my nuclear family of 6 went to a lovely bed & breakfast for the weekend! I think it’s the only time the 6 of us have been alone together since my sister and I were in college. We live tslking about that weekend!

  11. My house is filled with “treasures” my children have made or bought for me–someday, I will probably have to part with some of the painted flower pots and Christmas ornaments, but their cards I will keep always.

    • Oh yes, it’s the writings and art we savor most, isn’t it? But I do have a hard time getting rid of any of it – much harder than emptying out my own ancient stuff!

      Thanks for visiting ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Cards from the cats is a must in our house, replete with stories about how they had to sneak out to go shopping, etc. We don’t shop much, and so we sometimes shop together online during October, which is our birthday month. Gag gifts also are fun. I am a lover of sunflowers, and these also often come in October . . . good post!

    • Katie – i love your “from the cats” tradition ๐Ÿ™‚

      last year for the first time in years, we actually went to a mall in November and “bought each other” warm sox and new winter jackets. It was spontaneous and fun.

      I was attracted to your sunflower art from my very first visit, and i always think of you and Tina Downey when I see them growing. We have many so you are often with me ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I’d rather have a green frog looking over me any day of the week…so sweet.

  14. Practical gifts are the best. And gifts from kids, of any kind. I love the toilet-seat story. My husband buys things like dishwashers, pans, etc. anything that needs replacing in our household. And I love him for it. We have roses in the backyard, if I wanted flowers I’d just walk a few steps and get me some flowers, but I prefer them in their natural environment where I can enjoy from my window. You have a good man, there, Sammy. And love this post, love how you touch upon all the nice, unique personal matters. Nothing pulls me in more than something from the life of the blogger — any kind of snippet.

    Have a great weekend, and enjoy all the gifts. By the way, Happy Birthday (unless, of course, this is a story from the past. :))

    • Thank you, Silvia. I DO have a good man :-).

      I’m like you – I love the snippets that friends share and the comments for this one were especially fun. The personal blogs I follow give me such new perspectives and warm feelings because we touch chords in each others lives and handle each other with care. It feels very safe and nurturing.

      You nailed it on picking flowers from the garden – i never quite put into words why store-bought flowers don’t do it for me (unless very unexpected moments) but you said it!

      My birthday is in January :-). Since I write so much ‘memories’ stuff, I’m trying not to start every post with what sounds like “way back when” .

      Have a great weekend! Go Broncos ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Beautiful post, Sammy! I love the story of the postcard ๐Ÿ™‚ The idea of the “have to” gift not being “have to” is kind of awesome! My husband and I usually just do vacations. So…the France trip was for his birthday, my birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas last year and possibly this year as well ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, Kelli!

      That’s a darn good present for all those occasions ๐Ÿ™‚ looking forward to more tales from your trip and dying to know about flat tire. You’ll have to make one up if it didn’t happen or we’ll all be bummed (wish I could have said all that in French) ๐Ÿ’–

  16. My husband and I are the same way with gifts, and now the “no-gift” policy is shared by my whole family. So much less stress around the holidays. If I see something I think someone would like, I just buy it. No need for a special day to give a gift.

    • Me, too! Some of our family has opted for stress-free but not everyone. I think that’s why I’ve always preferred the relaxed atmosphere of Thanksgiving – never a gift decision and fewer expectations about the holiday itself.

      I do love Christmas Eve church services.

      Thanks for your comment!

  17. Omg, I love Raqi’s frog!! The colors, the glitter, the story – love it!! And that postcard is awesome, lol!

    Your description of the shelf with the homemade gifts reminds me so much of my mom’s glass cabinet filled with painted pots and projects covered with macaroni and glitter. Those things really do hold so much meaning, don’t they?

    My husband and I have similar feelings about gifts. Maybe it’s because we’re both Virgos and very practical. Last year for my birthday, he had taken the day off so he could take me to breakfast. Turns out, our toilets wouldn’t flush that morning. My husband spent the whole day digging a huge hole in the front yard and helping a plumber fix the septic system. Forget flowers, jewelry, or a nice breakfast – Flushing toilets was the best gift I could have asked for that day, lol!

    • LOL What a funny story, Jen. Teeth-gnashing as it occurred, no doubt, but those make the best yarns for later reminiscing. Thanks for sharing that narrative with us ๐Ÿ™‚

      And for your compliments and support. I love that we connected ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’ฅ

  18. This post was a delight! How sweet is that frog? And how precious were her moving concerns? SO CUTE!
    We don’t do have-to gifts, either, which just amplifies my adoration for this post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks, Joey. She’s one of those kids who could fill a book with her quotes – everything in the right context. Every body should have one of those kids in the family – keeps us in stitches!

  19. Love the frog and the Now-and-Then project. Priceless.

  20. What a great post! I would love to stop the entire obligatory gift-giving frenzy, but my hubs will not hear anything of it. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some very funny moments opening gifts over the years – but I have to admit, none of them ever included a toilet seat ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love the postcard exchange that occurred with you and your dad. It sounds like you come from a very lighthearted family ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. This made me smile as I remembered my padded, hummingbird embroidered toilet seat. One of my many “functional” Christmas presents from my hubby! It went over so well, when it developed a split, I received another as a “gift” this one with flowers embroidered on the lid. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • How funny! Gift-giving and receiving can be so awkward. Best to keep a sense of humor. Thanks so much for adding your personal guft lore ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. You have an amazing ability to appreciate the “thought” behind each gift. It would be wonderful if gift-giving were more spontaneous and less attached to certain days of the year.

  23. Very funny! I love practical gifts, too. I once bought my ex a baking tray for Christmas, as she’s been moaning about needing a new one. She wasn’t impressed, although she used it a lot afterwards…

    • “… she wasn’t impressed”, huh? Funny! Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      • you’re welcome ๐Ÿ™‚ what can I say, I was miffed, she had talked so much about wanting a new one! What’s more romantic than letting your loved one know you’ve been listening ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. We’ve turned into the “give experiences” family, which is a lot of fun. Everything from the kids do dinner one night to vacations, etc. I also had a running back-n-forth gift gag with my dad re: Valentine cards. After he died several members of the family carried on the tradition with me to keep that cherished memory of him alive.

    • The ‘giving experiences’ is a great tradition to involve the kids. I did ‘coupon books’ with my niece & nephew for several years; we had lots of fun with those.

      And how sweet that your family helped you remember a favorite gag with your Dad.

      Thanks for adding your comment!

  25. i cant believe i missed this post and your birthday right? If you were here i would sing you a belated happy birthday so you are lucky that you are not here hehe… oh my that had me laughing a toilet seat from hubby? Your family sounds just the right dose of crazy in a good way including amazing sense of humour that I think is perfect that post was wonderful, uplifting and full of light and love xx

    • Thank you, dear Justine. We would be a couple of off-key warblers if we sang a duet :-). My birthday was long ago; I just used it to open my anecdote.

      Thanks for comments about my family. We do seem to find ways to bring humor to most things.

      I thought I might have lost you as a follower because I hadn’t heard from you. I’m glad that’s not the case ๐Ÿ™‚

      • OMG never ever…….really, seriously, never ever. No way….

        I jsut have been manically busy trying to get work and my life in to order, the luxury of actually reading has evaded me, i really need to cut down the amount i seem to be following because many people who i really need/want to catch up with just disappear amongst the reams and reams of other posts, not that they aren’t important, but just sometimes with closer friends one really does want to make sure one catches up with their posts xx So apologies that i am behind xxx

      • No no no , and that’s exactly why I didn’t ask because you should never feel guilty or like you ‘should’ be reading. It truly gets overwhelming because there are so many good things to read and explore. Never never feel obligated,,

        I stress about writing and you stress about reading. I think we have it covered ๐Ÿ™‚

      • lol we do and its always a pleasure to read, just time hides from me sometimes, i need double hours per hour i think, do you think you could arrange that for me please? hehe xx

      • Double hours coming right up – or how about two Fridays a week? I’d like that!

      • Will there be leftovers from Fiesta Friday??

  26. …intruding on my comfy silence. * cringe *
    Ha! Me too…I love my comfy silence…and then I feel guilty, and then not-so-guilty…like a see-saw… ๐Ÿ™‚

    We don’t buy each other ‘have-to gifts’ either.
    But you don’t have to wait for that special occasion to buy something. Just be spontaneous.
    It makes it difficult for my hubs because I’m not a flowers girl. Plus I don’t really have a sweet tooth…so that’s goodbye to the chocolates…
    He did bring me two notepads and pens the other day…I’m happy with that! LOL

    • He’s probably like my Hub – never quite sure we won’t actually give ’em the cold freeze for not proffering flowers on ‘have to’ days. The notpads sound perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

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