How I Was Blown Away By a Stick of Gum

This month’s topic for Robert Hruzek’s writing challenge is What I Learned From the Generosity of Others. Robert wants us to write about “a time when something completely unlooked-for quite literally blessed your socks off.” I have to admit, my socks are easily blown off by friendliness. I’ve even been blown away by a stick of gum.

What happened was when my daughter was 4 years old she discovered the joys of chewing gum. We had been telling her gum was for older people, but when she was offered a piece on a play date and the other kids were all getting some, it was time for me to say yes. Ah, instant ecstasy. We never bought her any but said she could buy some with her weekly allowance…which was just large enough to buy a small package if she wanted. The fact that it didn’t come easily meant it made a great present from Santa Claus that winter. Sure enough, he gave her four packs in her Christmas stocking. She was so excited she could hardly open them. And the first thing she did was offer me a piece.

Talk about melting a mother’s heart…. I mentioned the incident to her last week, and she still remembers it. She said she had felt sorry for me because I didn’t get any.

What I Learned
What did I learn from the experience? My husband and I were being careful to make sure that she wasn’t spoiled, that she wouldn’t grow up to have a feeling of entitlement. We wanted her to have a spirit of cooperation, to be a contributing member of society. The moment she gave me the first piece of gum I realized we could lighten up… she would do just fine. It still warms my heart to think of it.

What About You?
Have you ever been blown away by a spontaneous gift from someone else?

Thanks to Tracey, Evan, rummuser, and Diane for commenting on last week’s post.
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27 Responses to How I Was Blown Away By a Stick of Gum

  1. Lance says:

    Just today, in fact. Another blogger wrote a gratitude article and listed five people with whom she has been touched by in some way. I was humbled, and honored, to be included. And it wasn’t just a mention of a name and link back. It was a whole paragraph write up on why. And it came as a complete surprise to me. And it completely made my day. Not so much that I was listed there, not so much that she linked back to my site – but because of her honest and heart-felt words she wrote about “me”.

    Spontaneous gifts can come in all shapes and sizes – and may not even be material items. And they can appear at any time. And they are wonderful! Thank you, Jean, for reminding me that in addition to being humbled by this “gift”, I was also completely blown away! Just like your story about your daughter and the gum. Which is a lovely story – and thinking of others, what a wonderful thing for your daughter to do!

    Lances last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  2. teeni says:

    Aww, that’s such a sweet story. Kids are definitely more selfless than we give them credit for.

  3. Jean says:

    Congratulations! I’m happy for you…that would have blown me away, too.

    Yes, I knew she was a great kid, but I was surprised that the offering was so spontaneous when gum was so precious to her.

  4. Andrew says:


    I’ve never been a parent, but I reckon you are right on the mark with the lesson that you and your husband took away from the experience.

    Parents who refuse to spoil their children help them to develop a healthy, positive, work ethic – one of contribution and service, not consumerism.

    Let me share a time when an act of generosity touched my heart. I work in the public school system in Korea as a native English teacher. Last Christmas, one of the teachers at a school at which I worked arranged for every one of the second grade middle school students to write me a note of thanks (in English).

    All in all, I received more than one hundred and fifty notes of appreciation in one day. Many of them had spelling and grammar errors, particularly as English is their second language, but I must say that I really felt like crying tears of happiness.

    Andrews last blog post..Wal Mart – bargains are not worth stampedes

  5. What a wonderful legacy you’ve developed in your daughter, Jean! Way to go!

    Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that mean the most, isn’t it?

    Thanks for jumping in once again, Jean!


  6. What a wonderful legacy you’ve developed in your daughter, Jean! Way to go!

    Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that mean the most, isn’t it?

    Thanks for jumping in once again, Jean!


    Robert Hruzeks last blog post..Am I Comin’ or Goin’?

  7. Diane says:

    Yes! One Christmas this lady knocked on the door and presented my boys with a gift. She said they had lemonade stand and one day she was driving by and they were so kind to her. She said she was having a really bad day and they had changed that for her. And she had thought of them for quite some time and wanted to do something special for them. They were blown away and so was I. I’ll never forget that.

  8. Evelyn Lim says:

    Your girl was so sweet!! It’s awesome that she knew about sharing something which was a privilege to her, with her loved ones.

    I’m not sure if I would allow my kids (7+ and 6 yo) to chew gum. In any case, gum is banned in our country.

    Oh yes! I love spontaneous gifts! My kids surprise me every now and then with little drawings or with some of the nicest things they say about their mommy!!

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..7 Ways To Center Yourself In Gratitude

  9. Cathy in NZ says:

    Just last week, I was standing on my front porch looking over the edge to the driveway. There is big pile of hard garbage down there waiting for me to arrange to have it taken away. Just when I wasn’t expecting it, I noticed a piece of purplish paper in the pile….I said to myself “that couldn’t be a……..?”

    I walked to the stairs and lo and behold it was indeed a $50 bill which had somehow made it’s destination… just there! My driveway attracts all sorts of garbage mostly junk mail or takeaway wrappers but I have never attracted such a magnificent needful item…

    On the otherhand, the sort of thing I often do…….is that my supermarket gives out a fuel voucher if you spend more than xyz. I turn around automatically and ask the person behind me if they have a car, if they answer yes……I hand them the voucher (why because I don’t own a car, and I know I will forget to give it to one of my chauffeurs!)

    that leads to another ‘gift’ the friends who make sure I get places especially to crafty meetings… a friend is picking me up so we can go and do some sorting-up. I could take a couple of buses but she wants to help as well.

    anyway that should be enough from me….

  10. Evan says:

    For me its the things like my partner bringing me home a caramel (chocolate is OK but caramel I love) from the shops or an unexpected phone call just to say hi.

    Evans last blog post..The 200 Year Present Moment

  11. Jean says:

    That’s the kind of gift that would bring tears to my eyes, too. What a contrast to the Wal-Mart stampede (I enjoyed your post). We’ve always avoided the Christmas frenzy, it’s just the opposite of what we believe in.


    What a neat story. Thanks. 🙂

    I had heard that your country doesn’t allow gum chewing. I tried to put it off for my daughter as long as I could, but I figured sugarless gum was all right, it wouldn’t hurt her teeth.

    It is fun to get those spontaneous gestures of love, isn’t it?

    Good for you for having a spirit of sharing. I imagine the people who get your vouchers are thrilled with the surprise. I’m happy you found the $50 bill. You clearly deserve it. 🙂

    I’m with you, it doesn’t have to be a big treat, a friendly phone call works just fine. Just the fact that someone cares….

    Thank you all for responding. I appreciate it.

  12. bikehikebabe says:

    i offered my 7 year old grandson a pack of gum. he said he wasn’t allowed to chew gum. i asked him if he’d ever chewed gum. he said roy gave him a piece once. so sweet–he’s 9 now.

    i’m typing with one hand -shoulder operation. takes 2 hands to make capital letters.

  13. rummuser says:

    Serendipity? I have just posted a blog on giving and receiving. I had done this after a great deal of thought and reflection and I am ready as never before to answer your question. Yes, I have had a number of occasions when I had been “blown away”. Unfortunately, I was perhaps not as good a receiver as I could have been nor as good as the giver!

  14. bikehikebabe says:

    rethinking my comment (before rummuser’s) about giving grandson a pack of gum– it was a STICK of gum i put in the windowsill by the front door & it never disappeared. he wasn’t allowed to chew gum he said, tho’ roy had given him a piece. (he was 5.)

    i’m pampering my shoulder operation so i paced my room listening to a CD book (HOME) about a dysfunctional family. (worse than glass menagerie by tennessee williams) wasn’t one happy thought in the entire book read by a depressing actress. it finishes as i am sobbing & a delightful voice says “if you have enjoyed this book…” here’s other books she has written. i laugh. i hear swearing coming from the kitchen. there is onion powder all over the counter & floor where my husband is trying to fill a spice bottle. another good laugh. thanks for comic relief.

  15. Jean says:

    What a coincidence. I liked your post…it was very timely.

    I can hear the voice saying, “If you enjoyed this book…” I’m a great Books-on-Tape fan. I just wish they still rented them to individuals. The internet ruined that. Thank goodness for libraries.

    Thanks for the laugh about the onion powder. I can use it…I recently listened to The Man Who Listens to Horses. The first part was a real downer, but it does have a happy ending. At the moment I’m listening to a biography of Agatha Christie.

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment, and I hope your shoulder is getting better. Take care.

  16. B. Wilde says:

    As a matter of fact, just as recent as this week. I am a weekly post-er and had not posted for two weeks. One of my regular readers emailed me to ask if I was doing okay. I have told her, but she will never know just how much that meant to me. It reminds me of how truly and deeply we affect one another in ways that we sometimes don’t realize. Thanks for asking me this question.

    B. Wildes last blog post..Down In the Dumps? Put on Your Party Pants

  17. Jean says:

    B Wilde,
    Thanks for writing. I’m a regular, but new, visitor to your site and was a bit worried because your next-to-last post was about being down in the dumps. Clearly from the sense of humor you show in your letter to your son, you’re doing just fine.

    What a great idea that teacher had. And what wonderful letters you write. I especially liked the ending, “Count on me to bring a super-sugar-filled treat to our meeting tonight. I have a feeling you’re going to need it. ” Thanks so much for the laugh. 🙂

  18. Tim says:

    My mother, on her deathbed, asked for all the other family members to be excused while she talked to me. She told me that if I could only help her get out of bed maybe she would be okay. I was blessed by her belief that I might have some help to offer – I was equally disheartened that life just does not work that way.

    Tims last blog post..Lucid dreaming

  19. Jean says:

    That sounds like a great gift she gave…I wish it had worked out. I was honored to help nurse my mother as she died. I loved her dearly and didn’t want her to pass away, but I was grateful I could be there and help.

    Thank you for coming by and sharing.

  20. PopularOne says:

    Not long ago I was stranded on a bike trip.A mom with two kids offered to take meto my final destination in her car.It is so easy to pass people up now days for safety, kids, etc…I was very grateful for her kindness.The small things always matter. I am morelikely topass it along now.

  21. bikehikebabe says:

    and i was biking on top of a 9,000 foot mountain in a rain/lightening storm & a woman picked me up & took me home. maybe saved my life 🙂

  22. Jean says:

    I agree, giving people a ride can be dangerous now-a-days. I’m glad the mother and kids did it for you.

    I’ve been on mountains in rain/lightning storms. It’s scary! Bless that woman.

  23. pelf says:

    There is a saying in Chinese that means (literally) how one behaves when s/he is 3 years old determines how s/he will behave when s/he is 80 years old.

    Which means to say that your daughter will grow up to be a generous young lady who will melt hearts 😀

  24. Jean says:

    Actually she is grown up now, and she’s still melting my heart. There’s a picture of her in What’s Your Favorite Photo?, as well as how she and her husband blew me away at her wedding.

    🙂 Thanks for coming by and commenting.

  25. Jean – as a fellow parent, I am always astounded by the generosity of my children. My youngest (2 – but 3 at the end of January) has taken to telling me that I’m the best mother ever. While I could tell her I’m not (and would be telling the truth), I choose instead to tell her that I love that she appreciates me – which is a higher truth, I think. Her generosity with praise makes me humble.

    Monique Attingers last blog post..Inhalers better for environment; worse for patients

  26. Jean says:

    What a great answer! Thank you.

  27. tammy says:

    i loved your story of kaitlin. and all the other commenters.
    what a wonderful community! even tho my comments on these archives are three years older, i feel like i’m in the midst of all of them now.
    my story is not what happened to me but to my niece and a friend of hers. they were young mothers having a lunch out and speaking about how rare an opportunity it was. both girls had husbands serving in iraq. (my nephew was one). they were talking about the cost of everything and how this lunch would come out of the grocery budget, etc.etc. … not complaining, but laughing and having a good time. the man in the booth behind them was taking all this in.
    when they asked the waitress for their check, she told them that it had already been paid for and that she was instructed to tell them “thank you for your husbands’ service to our country and for the sacrifices you girls make every day.”
    very nice.
    and it dawns on me… today is veteran’s day!
    i love the idea of anonymous generosity.

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