It’s not me . . . at least not yet
(Gotcha going there, didn’t I!)
Not long ago, Peggy Wheatcroft turned 80, and she did something amazing to mark the milestone.
Rather than receive presents, she gave one, a gigantic one! Her gift(s) became a birthday surprise to strangers.
- She bought 80 blue envelopes
- In each, she put four $20.00 bills + A self-addressed stamped postcard + a note asking people, in honor of her birthday, to give the money to anyone they chose.
- “Find someone who least expects it,” she wrote.
- Deliver the gift in person.
- Then write me back . . . and tell me about your experience.
Her intent: “Let’s spread a small bit of joy!”
Peggy remarked, The weekend of my 80th birthday, I started handing out my blue envelopes to family members and friends who were in town for the wedding of one of my grandsons. Over the next year, I hand-delivered 78 envelopes to people ages 9 to 90. (The last two I mailed.) Here are excerpts from the article about her generosity.
Unexpected Ripple Effects
- One man who received an envelope with cash continues to give, three years later.
- Someone else adapted her idea as a birthday gift to her nieces. Her instruction: “Do whatever you want with the money, and let me know the fun you had.” Their response: They treated friends to movies and meals, leaving extra-large tips.
One postcard Peggy received in return:
Peggy noted that when she started this, she hoped people would “pay the gift forward in person.” That’s why she hand-delivered the envelopes, “to emphasize the joy of personal interaction.” (These days, you may have to do the job wearing a mask.)
“As for the many ways in which people spread joy, well, that surpassed all my expectations.” ~ Iggy
Read more about Peggy’s experience here.
I too am climbing the ladder of the seventies, but I haven’t reached 80. At least not yet. But, certainly I will have to consider Peggy’s ideas for celebration:
What novel ideas about birthday celebrations have you had experienced or know about?
What birthday celebration are you looking forward to this year?
What a novel and generous idea! I am sure Peggy’s gift has put a smile on many people’s faces.
I remember you share your birthday with Peter and I will have a toast to celebrate it with our family when we all meet in the south of France on Friday. Happy Birthday, Marian! 🍾🥂❤🎂
So, Peter has a birthday on July 24 too. I raise my glass to him; you can tell him that. I hope the south of France is more temperate than Florida right now. Happy – and safe – travels to you, Fatima!
Thanks you, Marian. We all had a lovely time as the whole family got to be together for the occasion. He had a toast for him and for you, as I explained to them that it was also your birthday. Hope you had a nice celebration of your own too.
The weather is very hot here, reaching 41C in motorhome, but luckily, we are near the beach and my in-laws have villa with pool only up the road.
Lucky you, access to a friendly pool when the temps heat up! 😉
Marian — This was such a joyful and uplifting post to read this morning. Thank you. And happy, Happy, HAPPY birthday to you on July 24th.
The birthday celebration that I’m looking forward to this year is Len’s 65th in August. To celebrate, we’re flying into the Garden Valley (Idaho) aviation campground and camping for a few days.
It’s always nice to have something to look forward to, isn’t it? You are fortunate to have an aviator/pilot in the family, especially now that flying airlines in general is a bit chancy. I’m glad this post bought you happiness today, Laurie. 🙂
What a beautiful way to celebrate! Thanks for sharing Peggy’s wonderful story, Marian. I’m one of those “heading toward the 80 mark too,..still have a few months to put a new take on my day thanks to both of you. ♫ HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! ♫ <3 xo
Thanks for the birthday melody today, Bette. I’m glad you can look forward to a celebration of your own at just the right time. 🙂
That title was a shock. I thought, “Wow, Marian doesn’t look 80!” And no wonder! You aren’t! But what a beautiful, beautiful post. I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Marian. 🎂 Thank you for telling us about Peggy who is a peach! I love her heart.Her generosity is inspiring!
Hope you have lots of ice cream to celebrate! 😀
Peggy IS a peach. I tried to “find” her on Facebook, but was not successful. May she doesn’t have a FB page anyway. I’m sure her story has sent “ripples” in my directions.
I found the article in the AARP magazine several months ago before the pandemic and felt the need to share some good news. Now more than ever, we need to share the good. Thanks, L. Marie
Good morning, Marian! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Happy Almost-Birthday to you!
We’re hoping to do some sort of memorial something for my mom’s birthday in August–but we will have to see how safe it is to get together.
What a lovely idea.. I am a few years from that milestone but I will have to give it some thought… Thank you for sharing such a great idea x
Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed reading such a cheerful story. And the good thing is that it’s true. Thanks for reading and commenting.
It always a pleasure to read such positive stories which benefit both the recipitent and the giver.. Such a feel good story.. I hope you are keeping well Marian 🙏
Yes, thank you, Carol! And I hope the same for you!
Merril, I certainly hope you can pay tribute to your mother very soon. It’s hard to say goodbye to a loved one at any time, but even harder with the lack of ritual. ((( )))
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, two days early. Janet Given’s post I just read is about compassion, and Peggy’s action is a great example of compassion. Not thinking of her own needs, but that of the needs of others. What a beautiful gift to herself – and to others.
I hope you have a joyful celebration of your life. And many more years to come of love and happiness. xo
I too read Janet’s post early this morning. Yes, Peggy’s action is a great example of compassion, which she puts into amazing action. My guess: her gift has blessed her as much as those who received her generosity.
Thanks for the good wishes, Pam, so appreciated!
Hi Pam. Thanks for the mention. I’m grabbing a bit of time and enjoying this post so much. What a terrific idea.
What a great story! When i turned 70 Rick invited our Sunday School class to donate soap to contribute to Mennonite Central Committee for Infant Care Kits, telling them he would match their contributions. He had 76 in a bin to show them he was serious. They rose to the challenge and brought lots of bars requiring to go and buy more. When I turned 50 I gave snack size Baby Ruth candy bars to friends, commenting that I was one long ago. I’ve continued the tradition now for 24 years. Such fun to celebrate life.
You and Rick are such cheerful givers. It’s wonderful how gifts multiple when hearts are willing, rather like the loaves and fishes story in the Bible. You are inspiring me to think of something like this when I actually do turn 80. Thanks, Ruthie!
What a wonderful gift. On of my Bible study friend moved to South Dakota a couple of years ago we still keep close contact and pray for each other.
She sent me an envelope with two 20.00 dollar bills she said one for me and one to give to someone I feel would need it. I carried it for a while. I took my mother out to lunch. I just felt as if the server was distressed. She still did a great job in serving. After I paid our bill and tipped her, I handed her the twenty dollar bill. I explained to her my instructions and believed she was the one who I felt led to give it too. Wow, the look on her face confirmed she needed it. I thanked my friend for trusting me to do this. It was so nice moving it forward.
Happy birthday to you. You are such a blessing to me with your post and friendship. Enjoy your special day.
Mother would be so proud of you for doing this, Gloria. And see what a blessing you were to this server. The truth is, people who bless others are blessed themselves. That’s how generosity works. Thanks for sharing this wonderful example of Christian love, Gloria! 🙂
What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday. Peggy is all that and a bag of chips, as the kids used to say. Or maybe I should say… she’s all that and a bunch of blue envelopes!
A bunch of blue envelopes – and a bag of chips. Sounds like a winner. Thanks, Ally Bean.
Happy pre birthday to my lovely wife Marian. She delights all the time (quite often with giddiness and laughter) when she gets an idea for a new post for her dear writer friends, YOU! Happy Birthday, Mennonite Daughter!
What a wonderful way to celebrate a special birthday! Thanks for sharing this, and have a happy birthday on July 24th. That’s the day our whole family goes to a cottage for a week. We were disappointed thinking our Ontario family would not be able to join us this year due to the Corona virus, but it now looks like inter provincial travel will be lifted July 25th and they can come!! The cousins are more than pumped and grandparents are excited too!
Elfrieda, I’m overjoyed that your family can visit face to face this year – and soon, just in the nick of time, July 25. Probably we will not take family gatherings for granted ever again. Enjoy your time together and thank you for the good wishes. 😀
Dear, thanks for the good wishes here, and always supporting me with helpful edits each week. 😀
You got me Marian. I was about to call you to say you’ve finally lost your mind! What a relief. Not yet 80.
Lovely story how to spread “God Gift Surprises” to the multitudes.
“God Gift Surprises” is a good way to put it. And, thanks for the assurance I haven’t lost my mind, at least not yet. Thanks, Jean! 🙂
What a creative and inspiring way to spread joy, something our world could use more of, especially this year! Happy Birthday! May God continue to use you to creatively inspire all those with whom you come in contact this year, and bless you in return! xoxo
I AM blessed, and thank you for your friendship as a “sister” blogger, Jenn.
Well, since today is my birthday, I better run to the ATM! Darn…I’m working. Thank you for introducing us to Peggy, Marian. Her kind heart and generous spirit is one to be admired. Happy early birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to YOOOOO too! Woo Hoo!
So, we’re both Leo’s it seems. Enjoy your day and the year ahead, Jill. 😉
Wonderful to hear of this; I’m going to copy it. Not yet 80 but climbing! Thanks, Marian
And whenever your birthday is, I know it will be a wonderful occasion! Cheers to you!
Well, Jack, since we graduated in the same EAHS class, you can guess my age. I’m thrilled to hear you are going to copy Peggy’s idea. Thanks for the good wishes too.
What a unique, compassionate and generous gesture. Peggy must be a truly wonderful friend. Thank you for sharing and have a Happy Birthday on July 24 🥰
Linda, I’m glad you enjoyed Peggy’s story of generosity. Thanks too for reading the caption under my photo. You have a sharp eye. 🙂
I love people who are kind, compassionate, and generous. Peggy is included there and I thank her for making the world a better place.
The world is sick of rants and rages. Peggy’s story rings a bell for all who crave good news about generous hearts. Thanks, Joan. 🙂
What a beautiful story. Talk about paying it forward! Catherine Ryan Hyde http://www.catherineryanhyde.com/ would love this story.
It is such a great idea. I love this.
Thanks for sharing Marian,
Ann, I just visited Catherine’s website and then contacted her via email with the link to this post as you suggested. I also copied you on the message, so you can read what I sent. Thanks for commenting here and sharing the good. 🙂
What a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing. I must admit, this is the year I turn 80 (later this year) and what with the Pandemic, we haven’t made any plans ….. yet! Still have a few months to think about it. Again- thanks for sharing such a wonderful story.
Thanks, Irwin. I’m glad this story hit the spot for you today. And, Happy Birthday to you, in advance! 🙂
Thank you. 🙂
How wonderful to hear a story like this. Happy birthday to you too.
Janet, I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks too for the birthday wishes! 🙂
What a fabulous idea! Have a great birthday, however you celebrate.🎉🎁🎂
Glad you enjoyed the story, Darlene. Thanks!
Happy upcoming birthday, Marian! This is an incredibly heartwarming story. I’ve always enjoyed giving more than receiving (which can make me feel awkward), but I haven’t done enough of that lately, as I’m never around for parties or celebrations… The downsides of the life of a nomad. That being said, we will be here for the 7th birthday of Mark’s twin nieces in a couple of weeks. Time to go shopping! We would usually offer an experience as a gift, but these days, that is hard too.
A lot of my birthdays have been memorable, one way or another. Mostly because of the location we found ourselves in. A perk of our lifestyle. 🙂 Enjoy your special day!!
Liesbet, your comment about experience rather than another type of present sounds like our oldest grandson, who would prefer Escape Room (Locked in a room and play the game to trying to get out!) to a box with a ribbon. But even that’s out as an option for now because of the close quarters. You’ll think of something cool for the nieces.
These days I long for a different vista, as you say, “a perk of your lifestyle.” I don’t think we’ve been out of the city limits for a very, very long time. I’d love to “get on a jet plane . . don’t know when I’ll be back again.” Ha!
Hi Marian, what a great way to spread joy among others. It reminds me of what my daughter did for my 70th birthday. She contacted family and friends and asked them to write me a letter, sharing special memories we shared over the years. She and her family took me out for brunch then she presented me with a pile of these handwritten letters. I was blown away and will never forget the joyI felt reading those words..every once in a while, I pull the letters out and reread them and I am reminded of the true gift each person is to me. Priceless!
Your daughter is such a treasure. What a gem! As the world becomes more digital, handwritten letters are all the more precious. I just wrote a note in a card to Jenna this week for her birthday and she struggled to read it because it was in cursive. I guess I’ll have to print when on other cards to grandkids. Ha! Thanks, Kathy! 🙂
What a gorgeous looking woman Peggy is Marian and her heart as well. This is such a lovely story. It’s a great idea to spread the joy. Also when there’s a significant birthday coming up why not ask friends to donate to a charity chosen by the birthday girl or that of their choice. People seem very happy to do that. Happy Birthday for tomorrow! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Have a lovely day 🙂
Susan, I thought of doing something for a worthy cause for my birthday next year. I’ll bet my friends and family would love to chip in.
I’m told that socks are the most needed item in homeless shelters. Maybe collecting those would be the answer. Anyway, you’ve got me thinking.
Yes, I agree. Peggy radiates beauty and the joy of giving.
Thanks for chiming in here! 🙂
Quick reply from me Marian – I’ll be as short as possible. In my car on the radio some years ago, i was listening to the radio host and the guest talking about what this man does by way of helping schools with sports gear. His organisation had already done much, donating soccer and cricket fields for the use of pupils. He said how much it would cost to fit out a soccer and/or cricket team. Our combined 60th was fast approaching. We were having a 60’s party at a venue – 60’s theme the lot. DJ etc with fab music. My son helped me with the invitations – they were wonderfully done drawn by him. Attached to this, I said about this initiative and said if they liked to make donations to this particular organisation for sports kit for a team (the leader was well known) in lieu of presents for Neil and myself, this would be wonderful. Gave the bank details and info etc.
The upshot of all this was some weeks later being notified that full cricket kits had been purchased for a team outside of Johannesburg and would I like to be present at the handing over. I was fetched one early morning in the depths of winter and off we set into the country. It was really some way away. It was a lovely little ceremony. I have photos of it – standing with a group of young sports boys, each receiving their full kit of cricket gear. Bag, cricket bat, cricket pads, cricket shoes, jerseys, socks, gloves, stumps, wicket, cap, jacket the works (no wonder the bags had to be big). I wrote to all the donors and sent photos of it so they could see the beneficiaries and how their donations were spent. The generous donations in lieu of presents totally covered the cost for full kits each of 11 young players who were so proud and pleased with their new gear! As were all donors!
I was tempted to tell you this story in my first response to you Marian, but I knew it would be a long story so I didn’t. But here I am telling it to you. This morning my husband looked at his overly full drawer of socks – and that he must sort them out. I said about donating many of them. Especially needed now in the middle of our winter and socks are always needed and many don’t have … so a tiny bit of synchronicity also ..
Terrific idea, Susan. Thanks for sharing it here so others can be inspired. I enjoyed reading about the synchronicity of socks too – ha!
I love this story of this lady. What a nice way to write about your upcoming birthday. Happy Birthday on Friday. Wish we could do lunch, but we can have lunch one day and celebrate all our birthdays. 🎂
Thanks for the good wishes, Bonnie. Yes, dear Southern Lady, we will have lunch one day. It’s seems far off, but you never know! 😀
Happy Birthday to you tomorrow Marian. And I would never put you even near 80. Enjoy! Love the kindness theme for Peggy’s birthday. You look marvelous dahling! <3
Don’t you just LOVE Peggy’s generosity! I checked to see if she is on Facebook, but no go. I guess she values privacy after being featuring in a magazine. Thanks so much for the compliment too, dahling Debby!
That story has given me goosebumps all over . How lovely is that . I am not big on celebration because I have social phobia so whenever celebrations occur I completely freak out . So what that lady did was lovely and put a smile on a lot of people’s faces . I have one of those milestone birthdays next year 😱😱🥴 . I’m going to sit on a beach and think 🤔 about doing something lovely like that lady did 🤞🦋🦋
Cherry, I’m glad this story traveled across the pond, so to speak, to give you goosebumps. It just shows the ripple effect of good deeds and deep love.
Ah, you have a milestone birthday next year. I’m not going to take a guess here, could be risky – ha! I’m glad you are already planning to do something grand from your vista on a beach next year. Huge hugs!
I have thoroughly enjoyed this post, Marian, and all the comments that followed. What a fantastic, generous idea. In these days, when do much of what we once took god granted is crumbling around us, it is a special gift to be reminded of the generosity and yes, compassion, that is our there. I can imagine the enjoyment Peggy was able to receive throughout the whole year. Another gift that keeps on giving. And an early happy birthday yo you. (I knew you weren’t turning 80, btw).
Thanks for reading this post – and the comments too. My sister fell for the title, hook, line and sinker. But the lure didn’t work for you – ha!
Yes, Peggy, is a generous soul, but so are you, extending the invitation to a group of writers, strangers, actually, at Chincoteague. You offered a launch pad for me as a fledgling memoirist, and I’ll be forever grateful.
I appreciate your promoting compassion on your own blog lately, a quality in short supply these days. ((( )))
What a fantastic post. I’m glad I waited until your actual birthday to read it. Happy day! I love this idea so much. I am going to “pay it forward” in my own way here too.
Thanks for the hot-off-the-press birthday greetings, Arlene. And I look forward to hearing how you are adapting the “pay it forward” idea in your own way too when the time is right! 🙂
Wonderful, wonderful, wonder-full. I turn 75 in September. I wonder what I can give away and where to give it? The need is endless, but I love Peggy’s idea of putting the power in the hands of the recipient. I’ve made it a habit to help various struggling friends in recent years when the rent was due or snow tires were needed, and now that support is needed more than ever. I need to imagine something special for 75.
Today is your birthday! Happy Birthday, Marian! I hope you have your favorite treat and I know your lifetime lover will make you a beautiful card. You’ve given a wonderful gift in this post. Thanks you and many blessings.
You expressed Peggy’s efforts in the most powerful way possible: “putting the power in the hands of the recipient.” I love your impulse to give which obviously derives from a generous heart. It takes SO little to give people a lift. Maybe you will tell us what comes after snow tires and helping with rent.
Thanks for your good wishes. Yes, my “lifetime lover” did come through with a bought card and help with rigging the connection for a wall fountain near the patio. Blessings back to you, dear Elaine!
What a great awesome thing to do. I agree this is indeed a gift to the rest of us and inspirational. Hope you have had a wonderful day!
I wonder if the grandchildren are still with you. If so, you have your hands full as I did yesterday and the day before with phone calls and visits (6-feet rule) and cards. I feel SO blessed. Thanks for adding to the joy, Melodie.
Such a lovely idea! And happy belated birthday! You look very young.
Thank you,Fiona, for the birthday greeting and the compliment. Like others, you agree that Peggy’s idea is superb!
Hi Marian – I enjoyed this post and like your friend, Peggy’s idea a lot! What a generous way to celebrate 80!
Maybe when I get old enough (haha!) I’ll celebrate this way too. Yes, SO generous!
Interesting blog. No action tho.
You don’t need to be 80 to participate in random acts of kindness.
I did turn 80 this year and sent out an envelope for each month of the year to 12 friends. Such a response full of blessings for me and My friends!!! Each one was a story worth repeating!
I suggest you try random acts of kindness today! It certainly will change your life!! Do it!
Welcome, Joy! Congratulations on turning 80 and spreading the joy. Your name certainly describes the generosity you share. Thanks for the nudge to be kind every day.
Do visit again! 😀