The Gift That Counts

Last year I celebrated a significant birthday. As much as I tried to bury it in a marathon effort and fundraising for refugees, there were friends and family who still snuck in some gift-giving.

I received some wonderful presents from people who clearly know me well. The generosity of my work colleagues blew me away and also their perspicacity in choosing a gift that happened to be on my bucket list – a session in a flotation tank.

Birthday gifts that also made me happy were the many friends and members of the family who generously supported my bid to raise money for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Surely the best birthday presents help someone else in need.

ASRC Fundraising

However, the birthday gift that touched me most deeply and for which I was most grateful did not come wrapped in colourful paper.

A few weeks before my birthday, a friend asked if I could babysit their baby son so she and her partner could go out for a date night. I eagerly agreed. With three now-grown sons, time with baby boys is always a joy. With an arrival time set on 6pm, my friend insisted that she provide me with a meal. I argued that it was ridiculous to be going out for dinner and still have to provide a meal and I was more than happy to provide for myself. She insisted again and stated she already had it planned. I reluctantly agreed.

I arrived at the appointed time and was surprised to see her mother and brother there but then inwardly shrugged and decided it must be a family dinner out.

As I stood there, waiting for them to leave, my friend looked at me, smiled and said, “You’re not babysitting.”

“What?” I said.

“You’re not babysitting. My brother is babysitting and we are taking you out for dinner.”


“We’re taking you out for an early birthday dinner.”

I stared at each of them trying to comprehend. Then it dawned on me. And then the tears welled up.

In a year when my trust in friendship had been badly shaken…

In a year when I wondered if my worth lies only in what I can do and not in who I am…

In a year when I felt so confused about how to read people’s motives that I have become increasingly socially reclusive…

…Such a gift was unexpected.

More was in store as I arrived at the restaurant to find other friends part of the secret. More emotion. More confusion and joy.

I received some wonderful gifts from people who took time to think carefully about what I would like and I will treasure them always.

But, in the end, all any of us really wants is to know we are loved and wanted for who we are and for others to want to spend time with us. That is a gift that truly counts.


What is the gift that truly counts for you?


32 thoughts on “The Gift That Counts

  1. What a nice surprise, Heather. I think it was well-deserved, especially given the level of gratitude expressed. It’s alwsys nice to know that we are loved, liked, appreciated and that others enjoy our company. I only know you via the Internet, but I’m glad I do know you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You see, you are surrounded by friends! And what a birthday cake. Enough to make your teeth ache for weeks I should think. Good to hear from you MOSY. Have you written those letters yet? Bit late for me, but maybe I could write one to my 80 year old self. (Feeling optimistic today).

    Liked by 3 people

    • That cake tasted as good as it looks! Luckily there were plenty of colleagues willing to help me eat it! No letters yet. Pushed off the To Do list by work.
      I think you could definitely write a letter to your 80-year-old self. I reckon she’ll still be clambering around Cornish cliffs by then. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, people are the gift that keeps on giving, Heather. Even the Aussies half-way across the world who I have never met. 😉 I’m happy for you that your birthday revolved around people who love you and take the time to find and give those special gifts. You keep saying you are an introvert, but your life revolves around so many people, many of whom I would guess have positive motives. Just keep going Heather and don’t doubt yourself for a minute. You are truly an exceptional human being and worth every one of those Dr. Who glasses.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Because I didn’t have a birthday party, I had no expectation of receiving anything really so each gift was another wonderful surprise. The birthday dinner was extra special because if the reasons behind choosing not to have a party. It’s a gift I’ll never forget.
      Thanks, Mary. Always appreciate the time you spend with me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. SOME people love to share time with you – in fact, I suspect most of your friends ! – but are unable until this goddam full-time term comes to an end. There is only so much a servant can do to share herself around. [grin]
    Love yer, H !

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m late to this party, so I don’t expect there is any cake left?

    I’m sad that you’ve experienced a time when trust in friendships was shaken and you’ve questioned the motives of those around you. It sounds like an unhappy and uncomfortable time. Your comment that “in the end, all any of us really wants is to know we are loved and wanted for who we are and for others to want to spend time with us” rings so true for all of us at any age. Even better, it sounds like you have that in abundance – in spite of the doubts you have had ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am very late to this post heather so my apologies to start. I agree that is the thoughtfulness that makes a gift so special. Over a decade ago I had an injury and was told all the things I would never do again. I spent a lot of time in physio and rehab and boring little exercises. One night I found on my pillow a little Mp3 player loaded with my favourite songs. Dave had made it for me to listen to while I toiled away at getting stronger. Still puts a lump in my throat.

    Liked by 1 person

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