The Best Gifts Don’t Break the Bank

Because They Come From the Heart

Bonnie Barton
4 min readJul 19, 2021


Credit: Henrieta Ondrejkova via pixabay

What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given that cost less than $10?

I haven’t asked anyone that question in ages, but for a long time, it was one of my go-to questions for someone I was getting to know better. In fact, I think I need to resurrect it.

I’m not talking about some craft your kid made or something from your significant other. Those answers are too generic and expected. Rather, I mean an unanticipated gift from someone random in your life.

For years, I always answered the same way. But I see now that I have two gifts that share this award.

I’ve never trusted big gifts and grand gestures. (It’s a good thing since I never receive those things anyway.)

Small. Sincere. Thoughtful. Simple.

I don’t need any more than that.

Except for a shared love of alternative music and being on the same whirlwind European tour together in June of 1989, we had nothing in common.

I was 17 and he was 16 when we met. He went to another high school. I eschewed virtually all debauchery. He was a drug dealer for a while in college. He was an early computer wiz, babbling about the internet WAY before it was on anyone’s radar. I’m still barely technologically literate.

But he was sweet and made me laugh. And me? I reckon he liked the way I looked. And the fact that I could cut through the unfairness of his domineering mother.

I had a soft spot for him and he had a crush on me. What can I say? The unlikely dynamic worked.

He came home from one of his college breaks and handed the gift to me. We were in my bedroom and the sun was shining. My birthday’s in January, but I don’t recall the temperature. Neither of us cared about dates anyway. It might have been January, but it could have just as easily been June.

I unwrapped the gift and was delighted by the inexpensive hairbrush. He took the brush from my hand and asked me to turn around. The rest of the present was him brushing my hair.

Having my hair brushed is still a favorite of mine! No other sensation is quite like it.



Bonnie Barton

Queen of mixtapes. Lover of music, travel, and fashion. Authentic sharer of life lessons and dating foibles.