Tag Archives: gifts

kindness, like a boomerang, always returns. ~author unknown



this summer

i’ve so enjoyed

spending time

at home

in my cozy little cottage


family and friends and animals


thinking back


last summer


i set off


a long journey

to see my family

in their home

so far away

and when

i returned

and walked in

i was



when i found

what was waiting for me


on my table

was a basket

of fresh peaches

and muffins

and notes

welcoming me home


they were

filled with

so much

love and caring


a surprise gift

had been

given to me

by my dear friends


in my absence


completed many projects

i had been talking about

for a very long time

mainzer cats

they had planned it all

and worked together

for weeks

husbands, wives, children

to make

my cottage

even more of

a home for me

they had


and shifts

and materials

and money

and sweat

and tools

and time

and hard labor

and they


my daughters

for my


and ideas

and wishes

and dreams

and most of all

what i saw

when i walked in


an incredible act


human kindness



couldn’t believe

what they had done for me


i cried


my daughter


‘mom, all of your stories end with you laughing or crying or sometimes both’


isn’t that the way

 all things should end?


you can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

~john wooden

image credits: leslielane.com, mainzercats

Children remind us to treasure the smallest of gifts, even in the most difficult of times. – Allen Klein




 and even when your special chocolate cupcake melts in the car,

you just stick the candles in sideways,

light them up,

and blow them out.

and you sing in celebration.

and you rename it a molten hot lava cupcake.

and you can then eat that volcanic overflow with a spoon and a smile.

Gifts have ribbons, not strings.  – Vanna Bonta



i traveled back from visiting my family in australia with this little gem in my bag. it was a super cool dino, who screamed like a banshee for 20 seconds when you squeezed its belly, and it was going to be a amazing and easy gift for baby j back in the states, when his birthday rolled around in 6 months. 

once on the trip, a unexpected logistical issue arose. periodically, and without any pattern or warning, i would hear it shriek in my carry- on bag. and, periodically, i would explain to those around me, and in customs and security, that it was simply a harmless toy, gone a bit bad. it was important that it made it home, as it was a gift for my grand baby j, one he simply could not live without. 

through some miracle of human kindness, it was allowed to travel all the way with me, and once home, i happily put it into my ‘box of upcoming and unusual gifts that people in my life cannot live without.’ every so often, i would hear it’s happy shriek, a bit muffled and coming from the box. i could not wait for the big day!

finally, j’s birthday was on the horizon and i took it out to wrap. i thought again about how he would be so happy to get this gift and annoy the whole family with it for hours on end. that is when i squeezed it myself,and noticed that things had clearly changed. now when i squeezed it, it would not make any noise at all and then when it finally did, it simply would not stop the shrieking for a long, long time!


i called my family in australia, and my daughter suggested that it may have a battery inside that needed changing. who knew? she actually was right, and i wrestled a battery out of it, unwinding the screw that was the size of a fairy hat, and found a replacement after a visit to numerous stores. at last, it had stopped screaming.

i took it to school to have my teaching partner do the required surgery to replace its life force, as she is much more tech-savvy than i, and thought the problem would soon be solved. the good news, is that it now had a fresh source of power, the bad – it refused to stop shrieking again, as soon as she put the battery in. she quickly removed it once more, and i decided to present it with its guts torn out, thinking i would replace its insides on-site, for dramatic effect. and i couldn’t leave the battery around, as he was little and might swallow it, so it had to be an all or nothing choice. this was turning out to be quite an amazing and easy gift!



i arrived at his house, and told the family the backstory and proceeded to insert the battery once more. of course, it began shrieking again immediately and baby j loved it! and the rest of the family hated it and asked me/begged me to remove the battery immediately! i took it back out and we found the above unusual note on the neck tag of the dino/banshee. and it kind of made sense. 


we also discovered the reason that it may not have worked exactly right.

apparently the toymakers had imprinted it, but forgotten to actually add this button to the toy.


so, we decided to ignore the warning note and took things into our own hands. the outdoor fire pit was too snowy to work.


we took it back indoors, but we decided we would probably be killed by the fumes, if we followed through with its execution by fire.



so we threw the battery away, deep in the trash.

and dino joined the others who found themselves in the pile of extinct toys.

it was a long journey, but somehow we managed to all have a lot of fun with it.

and that was the gift.

The greatest of all gifts is the power to estimate things at their true worth
 François De La Rochefoucauld

feliz ole?




went to buy my teaching partners a little something with a mexican flair as part of their holiday gifts. ole, ole, ole!


 when i got home, actually put my glasses on, and went to wrap their gifts, i discovered that i had bought this. 



when i gave them their gifts, they were not surprised and very understanding and said it had been a rough week and maybe firewater was more what they needed anyway. this is why we work well as a team.

Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. – Henry Miller


the cat came back. and just won’t go away. and is still coming back.



a few years back, when he was still a wee lad, grandbaby m came all the way from australia to visit for the holidays. we bought a crazy pile of used toys for him to play with, knowing he’d have to leave most of them behind, and planned to donate them back for other kids to enjoy, upon his return home. he was very fascinated by animals – cats in particular, at this stage of his life. while here, he played with real cats, and halloween cats, and we bought him knit cats, cloth cats, stuffed cats, and then – the mechanical cat.

imagine our surprise, after we purchased this cat,  when we discovered, it was just not an ordinary stuffed cat, but it had a place for batteries inside it’s belly, hidden under it’s mangy, ratted, orange fur. m took to this cat immediately, and loved to sit with it and play with it and carry it around.  the adults, on the other hand, began to become a bit freaked out by it the longer it was around. it had a peculiar habit of moving once in a while, in no particular interval of time, and quite often, it seemed to turn it’s creepy head and stare right at us. (chucky’s feline counterpart in my opinion).

we were all a bit relieved and happy when he took to this creature, figuring it would be traveling home down under with him, never to cross our paths again. imagine our surprise once more, when we discovered they had left it behind, hidden in the house for us to find. we put it back out for a while, under the tree, as it continued to move at will and make eye contact with us from time to time. once the holidays were over, i thought it might be funny to pack it up and bring it out at christmas the next year. i packed it up with the other holiday stuff and forgot about it. 

when the next year came, i wrapped it up and offered it as my ‘white elephant’ gift, one that some innocent family member would receive as a lucky surprise. another daughter chose this package, and not knowing, opened it, and there was a collective gasp from the group, as everyone remembered it from the year before. she was a good sport and reluctantly kept it for the year, only to do the same thing to some other unsuspecting relative at our next christmas celebration.

each year now, as is our new tradition, the person who ‘won’ it the year before, brings it back, elaborately wrapped and disguised, waiting to pass it on. each person reports that it does odd and creepy things when they have it – moving at will, making rustling sounds at night, and of course, the staring. each person has used their own strategy to deal with it. one combed its hair out, – trying to get on its good side, some have hidden it, left it in the box, or taken its batteries out. each year, it comes back, rattier, and mangier, and shows its age a bit more, yet it still instills a bit of illogical terror in all of us. this year, it could come back wrapped in a flat-screen tv box, or in a beautiful gift bag, just biding its time, until it once again goes home with someone – and it waits quietly for someone to forget and open it, the year’s winner.