Give the gift of happy and make someone’s day

mug, notebook, platterThis Mother’s Day, I received a very special present from Clare. It was the gift of Happy. A bright yellow mug with a smile on it, a yellow notepad that said “I’m so happy”, a pretty platter that said “Today I will make magic happen” and a cheery notebook with “Sunshine is instant happiness” on the cover. It made my day.

As parents, we hope we do right by our children. Teach them right from wrong. Be a good role model. Be kind. Lend a hand. But most times you wonder if your kids hear anything you say, let alone learn from you.

Case in point. For the past three months, I’ve been asking the kids to take their breakfast plate and cup and put it in the dishwasher instead of the sink. Have they listened to me and done it? No. But I know one day they will shock the h-e-double hockey sticks out of me and the dishes will miraculously start appearing in the dishwasher instead of the sink. That’s just how it works with kids.

My kids don’t read this blog. The odd time they’ll check it out when they know I’ve written something about them. Dave is a regular reader, but I think it’s more to check up on what I’m saying about our family than for his own pleasure. But when I got that beautiful gift of happy for Clare for Mother’s Day, it made me feel like maybe, just maybe a little part–the best part of me–was rubbing off on my daughters. It was a double dose of happiness.

This week’s #HappyAct is to give a happy gift. For all you Moms and kids out there wondering what to buy your child’s teacher for an end-of-school-year present, or Dad for Father’s Day, give the gift of happy.

Rent a muscle car


Two men and a sports car
The boys and their ride, a brand new Dodge Challenger

Next weekend is Father’s Day. I knew I wanted to do something special for Dave and his Dad this year after losing Dave’s Mom to cancer in February. We all miss her terribly, no one more so than John who had been her loving partner for 59 years.

So I came up with the idea of renting a convertible or muscle car for the day. A brand new Dodge Challenger with racing stripes, a sweet engine and pimped out radio.

We kept it a surprise until we reached the rental car place in Kingston. There were grins all around after the big reveal.

We drove east along Highway 2 to Gananoque then along the Thousands Islands Parkway. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm and there were beautiful vistas of the river. Every once in awhile, Dave would put the pedal to the metal and let her rip. We stopped in Rockport to spend an hour on the water for a Thousand Islands River tour, had lunch on a patio, then continued east until Brockville before heading north back country past picturesque farms.

Everywhere we went, people would say “Sweet ride”. There was the requisite stop for ice cream in Seeley’s Bay (best ice cream shop ever, the Nest Egg, make it a stop) before we had to drop Clare off at a birthday party at 4 p.m. The only damper on the day besides cramped legs was Clare and me still feeling poorly after coming off a week of the stomach flu, but the boys had a grand time.

This week’s #HappyAct is to rent a muscle car for the day, or just plan a special memory for the men in your life in honour of Father’s Day. Next time: a convertible!

Blowing hair
Hazards of the ride
Three girls in the backseat of a car
Clare, clearly enjoying herself
four people eating ice cream
Having a scream (Kawartha Dairy of course) at the Nest Egg in Seeley’s Bay

Do something adventurous

Young man in the 1930s standing in front of an airplane
John Gillies, the pilot

My father was a creature of habit. He had five shirts in his closet, one for Monday to Friday. He ordered the same meals when we went out for dinner and always golfed on Sundays in the summer. The neighbours set their clocks by his daily walk with our old dog Bailey.

When my Dad passed away 12 years ago, we held a celebration at a restaurant. There were lots of laughs and drinks raised in his honour, which is exactly how he would have wanted it. When we were putting together a small display for the restaurant, the full richness of my Dad’s life starting forming in the pages, and it struck me that my dad had a hidden adventurer in him.

There were pictures of him fishing in Northern Ontario and playing trombone at the Palais Royale in Toronto. There were photos of him standing nonchalantly in an airplane hanger in front of the plane he flew when he was in his 20s. There were photos of him meeting the Queen of England (as the press coordinator for the Royal tours in Canada in the 70’s, he met most of the royal family several times and dined on the Royal yacht).

I like to think there is a bit of a hidden adventurer in all of us. In many ways I am like my dad, a creature of habit, but with a hidden adventurer waiting to explore the world and the next adventure in my life.

This week’s #HappyAct is to do something adventurous. While often it’s the small moments and gestures in our lives that bring us the most joy and happiness, we all need a bit of adventure. My adventure this week will be tree top trekking in Muskoka next weekend with my girlfriends. And yes, I’ll be bringing my bug zapper!

To all you Dads out there celebrating Father’s Day, I hope it’s one of the best days of your life, and to my own wonderful husband, the “President Choice of Husbands”, thank you for being such a wonderful partner and father all these years.