The Happy Today

I had a sore throat the other day. Right there in the back of my tonsil area. I was gonna take a picture for you but thought that might be gross. No grosser than a pig’s nipple of course, but gross nonetheless.

I kind of felt like I’d been sat on by an elephant with a dirty bum. Icky. Blech. So when I was on the phone to my sister the first morning of my sickness I told her I felt awful and planned on spending the day laying in front of the fire in my pajamas. This sort of thing is uncommon for me by the way, so she KNEW I must really be feeling sick.

Ding Dong. (That’s a reasonable facsimile of the sound of my doorbell.) Around 1 o’clock my sister stormed into my house. This is not what I wanted. I felt gross. Did I mention this? ‘Cause I did feel gross. I wanted to remain on the floor with carpet marks imprinted on my face and my hair looking like something Betsey Johnson would be proud of. I wanted to be a mess and not have to entertain anyone. Not that I typically entertain my sister when she comes over, so much as hand her a hammer or paintbrush. Rarely the same hand gets a coffee.

I mumbled something about her showing up when I told her I wasn’t feeling well. That’s when she presented me with A Happy Today.

A Happy Today is a present you give someone for no reason at all. Although if you’re abiding by the not-so-strict rules of the Happy Today, it’s most often given when someone’s having a bad day. As I was.

It’s a fantastic concept. For some reason it’s a lot more exciting to get a present when it isn’t your birthday, anniversary, graduation or whatever religious holiday it is you celebrate that involves gift giving. I encourage you to adopt the idea of A Happy Today. Today.

My Happy Today …

Forsythia Branches

When my sister first brought these Forsythia branches they were just sticks. Twigs. Bare, barren, bones. Neither one of us really thought they’d ever amount to anything. We were wrong.  So if you happen to live in a climate where these are available at garden centres or flower shops then buy them!  Or better yet … give them to someone else, as a Happy Today.


  1. Jennifer says:

    I LOVE ‘happy today’ presents — already adopted! And the forsythia branches are indeed lovely in those gorgeous vases. (Hope your throat’s feeling better…)

  2. Lynne says:

    I’ve always called them ‘I love you’ gifts, you know the kind bought just because you see something that is exactly perfect for someone 🙂
    I’ve never been one for gift giving because it’s expected though I am really good at gifting on birthdays and other important days too.
    I like the idea of calling it a Happy Today and will adopt it if you don’t mind.
    Hope you feel better!
    I think I too will be wanting to lay face down in front of the fireplace soon….feels like I’ve a giant furball studded with kitty kibble stuck in my throat…ugg!

  3. Elly says:

    Question: I have that same lighting fixture (the one above your gorgeous Forsythia arrangement). It’s a bit dusty (inside it’s grooves and out). What’s the best way you’ve found to clean it?

    • Karen says:

      Elly – I find if you keep it “Swiffered” it’s easier to keep clean. Once it gets “dirty, dirty” I have to clean it with paper towels and Windex it! ~ karen

  4. Traci says:


  5. Liz says:

    The gardens of the area i live in might find itself somewhat short of forsythia branches this spring.

  6. Sharon says:

    What a great sister. It makes me miss mine, all of which are 3000 miles away. And by the way, those are beautiful vases. Available anywhere?

  7. elaine says:


    Hope you’re feeling better…bet the “Happy Today” really helped…and having a sister is the best!!


  8. marilyn says:

    my sisters and i do that all the time! we dont really have a name for it but happy today works for me. i looove pressies! i wasnt sure which sister until you mentioned the hammer and i force forsythias in the spring all the time. perfect flower for a happy today gift…all sunshiny yellow, good on ya karen hope you feel better!

    • Karen says:

      Marilyn – Thanks … I’m feeling much better. In fact the Forsythia branches have lasted much longer than the illness. 🙂 ~ karen

  9. Debbie Doodles says:

    I LOVE “Happy Today!” What a great concept. My mother in law did Happy UnBirthday presents. When ever anyone in our fam had a birthday they of course got the best present – but everyone gets an UnBirthday Present. A delightful time for all. Hope you are feeling better. Have a Doodle Day!

  10. Jane Buntain says:

    I have been “trimming ” my forsythia bushes in the winter for years…my Grandmother did this. It is a wonderful gift to give someone….I love the look on their faces when you hand them the “sticks”!! Now some of my friends EXPECT this gift every spring!

  11. Charles Lange says:


    How is it that the ads on your page always match the content of your post? Today you are talking about Forsythia Branches and you have an ad about pussy willows. Very interesting ad with beautiful pictures.


    • Karen says:

      Chuck – I can’t take responsibility for that. Google Adsense somehow matches my blog’s content with their potential advertisers *instantly*. I just took a look and actually don’t see the ad you’re talking about but .. it may show up again later in the day. 🙂 Thanks for looking at the ads. That’s what keeps me in business! ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        I looked for the ad for pussy willows and didn’t find it, but I did spot an ad for CB2. Gasp! The big boys have discovered you — congratulations!

  12. judy cowling says:

    Love your unique vision of the world. Thank you for The Happy Today and do feel better. Have you tried the awful trick of gargling with REALLY salty water to get to the back of your throat until you gag??? A couple of times a day? It really works, and it will make you feel better because you will be thankful you don’t have to do it all the time!!!

    • Karen says:

      Judy – The sickness lasted no time at all. A couple of days. Here’s the funny part … my sister kept asking if I’d gargled with salt water yet. LOL. I didn’t. I usually do though! ~ karen

  13. Maggie says:

    You Canadians, a national health care plan and a sense of humor. Can I visit?

  14. Oona says:

    What an amazing sister you have! Just another reason to wish I had a sister…

    Did you do anything special to the branches to convince them to bloom? Extra sunlight? Whiskey in the water? lol

  15. Lesley H says:

    The forsythia branches are lovely, and so is your sister. Could you let her know I’ve come down with the same ‘sickness’ today and could use a pop of color to cheer me up? Many thanks! Off to get my salt water ready, yuck!

  16. Pam says:

    Where’d you get your vases? And how do you pronounce ‘vases’? Do you say ‘vaaahses’ or ‘vasis’?

    • Karen says:

      Pam – Over $50 it’s a vahse. Under $50 it’s a vase. 🙂 My niece got them for me for Christmas this year. They’re designed by Brian Gluckstein and are probably for sale at The Bay in Canada. I don’t know how much she paid but I would think they’re probably vahses. ~ karen

  17. Amy says:

    We have a massive Forsythia hedge that runs across the back of our property. It is gorgeous when it blooms each spring. Cutting branches to bring in the house always makes me happy too!

  18. Janelle says:

    Awww. The next time my daughters are screeching at each other, writhing on the floor, each with a fist full of hair in one hand and some mutually coveted toy in the other, I will adapt my usual: “You’ve only got one sister” speech and instead profess: “Nobody but a sister will bring you Forsythia branches in late winter when you’re curled up on your carpet in the fetal position swallowing glass in a germ-infested wasteland of self-pity.” Thanks for that!

  19. Alissa says:

    LOVE this. I can’t stand Christmas and birthday presents because so many are bought out of a feeling of “have to” and thus rarely have any thought put into them. If you’re female it means you always get scented lotion. I don’t use lotion.

    I’d much rather give (and get) a present that shows I was thinking of someone throughout the year and gave them something they actually LIKE or will use.

  20. Liz says:

    I’m searching like a mad woman for those vases. What the heck is The Bay? Online anywhere?
    Great story too. I have 2 sisters – one older (the beautiful one) and one younger (the smart one). Well, actually they are both beautiful and smart. I’m lucky to be in between enjoying their awesomeness.

  21. Pam'a says:

    What could possibly beat flowers in the dead of winter? Nothing. You can also do this with lots of other woody plants that bloom in the spring if you’re forsythia-deprived… Cherry blossoms, pussy willows, flowering almond, curly willow… Your own little miracle in a vase. Er, vahse. Or in my case, Mason jar. 🙂

  22. Rick says:

    LOL ok, I like it but Im a 56 yo man and have no idea where you could get these, how long can you keep them or what. Please give me the big dummies guide to this. LOL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rick! You can get Forsythia branches at garden centres or flower shops this time of year. In a few days I’m going to do a tutorial on how you can find and force these branches at home so you don’t have to spend the $15 for them! ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      Rick – Forgot to mention, if you buy them at a florists shop, they’ll just be sticks when you get them. Each day the buds will get a bit bigger and bigger, until they actually bloom into yellow flowers. They’ll last from beginning to end .. mmm … about 2 weeks. Also, I’ve answered your subscription question on the Facebook page! ~ karen!

  23. Elly says:

    Thanks, Karen! I Windex….

  24. faith says:

    forsythia! my favorite.

  25. You can also take those forsythia sticks, push ’em into the ground after it thaws up, keep ’em well-watered, and you will soon have your own forsythia bushes!

  26. At a time when, for the fourth month in a row, all I see is snow and mostly-dark-skies (getting brighter now finally, and thankfully) , and where even basic flower arrangements (and I do mean basic. and I do mean drab basic) start at $50, those pictures warmed my spirit.

  27. cassie says:

    Awww, Forsythia reminds me of my childhood home. That’s a very nice “happy today” gift, indeed.

  28. Brenda says:

    Hi Karen, I’m a bit behind in reading your blog and your FB updates because pesky work has been getting in the way! Bless your sister for such a treat! In our family, we call those kind of gifts “Just Because.” Okay, now off to read about Circus Folks!!

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