The Thought That Counts

by Gurpreet Sihat

Among the pile of optician’s appointment reminders, junk mail and bank statements that arrived this week, there was a small brown package. An early Christmas present, I realised. A necklace with a globe and a pair of binoculars hanging from it.

And a message:

“Your world around your neck, because you’ve opened yourself up to seeing the world outside of your bubble. A reminder that you can go anywhere, but also that all you need is already inside you.”

It was the kind of gift that sends a tsunami sized wave of gratitude through you and then triggers a series of aftershock thoughts. Thoughts that start minutes long, then slips into hours, and then into days.

First, these thoughts were of the people in my life who put more value on the price of something rather than the sentiment behind it. The people who believe shoes aren’t worthy of their feet unless they’re genuine Louboutin’s costing £500 minimum, or that cubic zirconia is pauper’s jewellery. People who fake a smile when you hand them a scrapbook you took months making for them, before throwing it immediately into a cupboard without looking at it while they gush about the 85” flat screen this other person bought them.

Then I thought about all the things friends and family have given me this past year that I’ve cherished. The things that would have been nothing more than throwaways to those money-is-all kinds of people. Not at all worthy of attention. To me, however, they meant more than all the diamonds in Antwerp and all the luxurious, week-long spa getaways in Europe.

It was while thinking about this that I remembered a blogpost I was sent the link to at the start of the year. A section of the post was about me and while I cared little about it, there was one thing that stayed with me. It was the suggestion that all of the friends I had made and was spending more time with were nothing but sycophants.

Sycophant: A person who acts obsequiously towards someone important in order to gain advantage.

A flatterer.

A flunkey.

An arse-kisser.

I look now at all the friends I’ve made since the year began. At all the relationships that have blossomed since that blog post was published. I look at the memories we’ve made these past twelve months. At the small gestures of love they’ve shown me.

I think about the handmade birthday card that found its way to me while visiting family in Scotland. The kind words from an author scrawled on the first page of their new book which they wanted me to have a copy of. The random image of Newt Scamander that woke me one morning after a particularly bad night. The surprise advent calendar among some purchases I made from a friend’s store. The just-because card that arrived on my doorstep from a friend in America just wanting to say hello. The girl who stood beside me at a concert she had no interest in going to, where she didn’t even understand the language the songs were sung in, all so I wouldn’t have to go alone.

I look at these things, I look at the message attached to that globe necklace that couldn’t have cost more than a tenner, and I think about that blog post.



These people are far from sycophants. They ask for nothing in return. They expect nothing in return. They just want those rare dimples to appear in my cheeks.

So, as I wrap the various Christmas presents I’ve bought this year – as I post off the blanket for the friend that’s always cold, and the homemade Indian sweets to the one that used to love them as a child, and a Christmas candle with a note in her mother tongue to another – I think about the last part of that message. About what it is that’s inside me.

I think about the bottomless well of love I have to give.

About the positivity and vibrancy of life that flows through my veins.

I think about the beauty I see in the things others deem ugly.

About the pit of strength that I didn’t realise was so deep.

And I am grateful.

Always and forever grateful.

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