Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is It Really the Though That Counts?

Last weekend was Father's Day and the bad Father's Day gift has become a cultural cliche. And, of course, when we get a bad gift, we get told, "It's the thought that counts." But is it? It leads to two obvious questions -- which thought? and count for what?

Is it the thought that led the person to get the gift? generally we give gifts at times when we are socially expected to give them. The gifts are not random expressions of affection, they come at birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays when we know we need to get something for someone.

Is it the thought that went into picking out the gift? That couldn't be it either because it was this thought that went astray. They thought about it (or didn't) and got it wrong.

So what thought is it that counts?

And what exactly does it count for? We don't keep score or credit. Is it that it crosses the line to justify appreciation? Is there really such a line and isn't it exactly the fact that the gift isn't one we appreciate as much as others that led to the saying in the first place?