The Thought that Counts

One of the most used expressions in the English language is, “It’s the thought that counts.” It’s a saying that is so often repeated that over time, it has lost its true value, simply drowning in a sea of meaningless words. As it goes with the most  profound definitions, the true meaning of this expression came to me practically out of the blue.

My 16th birthday was the epitome of the most loving thought: two parents wishing for nothing less than a trip that would make their daughter’s dreams come true. They spent months planning the perfect getaway, mostly without my help! I was completely blown away when they showed me the itinerary; I never dreamed I’d be going on a trip like that!

The first day of the vacation was straight out of a dream. I needed to pinch myself every hour in reminder that this was real. We got back in our room decently late after a day of adventure. I felt as if I was on the top of the world, and I was super excited to climb into my Polynesian bed to reenergize for the next day’s events. I entered the room and was greeted by a massive Mickey Mouse-shaped gift basket paired with Tiana and Minnie Mouse balloons. Inside, it was filled with coloring supplies and a personalized Mickey ears hat. The Disney Florist left a small, personalized note with the basket. It read:

“Today you have been given two gifts. One gift is the treasure you hold in your hands. The other is the gift of thoughtfulness. Both were meant for you.”

I sat with this note for a while, rereading it in my head. I smiled at its innocence, but moved on to exploring my new gifts.

Three months later, I was sitting in my mother’s classroom, eating my lunch. I pulled out my chunky peanut butter and jelly on wheat from my floral lunch bag and saw a shiny Phineas and Ferb sticker on the sandwich bag. This time, something clicked.

I’m so lucky to have a father who still makes my lunch, just as I’m so lucky to have parents who went the extra mile to give me the greatest birthday present. However, it’s one thing to just give someone a gift, and a completely different thing to do so with love, compassion, and thoughtfulness. The gift basket and the sticker were unexpected additions, but as sweet as single cherry atop a 10 scoop sundae.

The big picture is often what most people think about, but the small details are the most important. Just as a song would sound empty without bass, a gift is nothing but a material possession without care. There are so many things in life to be grateful for, but most of all, we should be thankful for the simple things brought into our lives with love. If we notice the feeling behind a gift rather than the gift itself, we ultimately receive a greater gift: the knowledge that  it is the thought that counts.

Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust,