40 Words, A Million Ways to Say I Love You


Stan is hard to gift for. He’s really into the outdoors, but even more self-sufficient—he always gets himself what he needs. He loves a good experience, but sometimes life gets in the way. And perhaps worst of all, he gets a lot of “combined presents”—the fate of having a December birthday so close to the holidays. Merry Birthday!

So for his 40th, his wife Cat decided she was going to do something different, a gift that would show “all the things that are wonderful about him.” 

She had a vision. 

She was going to tell him 40 things she loves about him, all on a Scrabble board. Here’s how she did it. 

It couldn’t be any Scrabble board. It had to be the original, vintage. She found one online. Then, she realized that 40 words would be more tiles than included with a standard Scrabble board. She had to order more. But still, how was she going to pull this off?

Brainstorming the words and outlining tile patterns took a week. Then, she began arranging them—a clandestine operation in the office closet. But that wasn’t without hiccups. Apart from the nagging doubt that “this was a stupid idea,” one of her beloved dogs knocked over all the words!

But Cat persevered. One day, when Stan went out for a ski, she pounced on the opportunity, carrying the board (while balancing all the words) over to her mom’s house three blocks away. Cat’s mom was there to help her glue, as well as choose the final words, some of which Cat admits were “stretches.”

(“How about TNT?” her mom suggested. “Because Stan’s dynamite!”). 

According to Cat, Stan is a “dude’s dude,” the kind of guy who wouldn’t get art for himself. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate a good gesture.

When he got the gift, he was “super psyched.” He got to see all the things Cat loves about him. 




Today, it hangs in their office, where no matter how hectic things get, they are reminded that their relationship is “their true north,” and that there are way more than 40 reasons why they love each other.


But what if Cat had to pick one word to sum it all up? After some light resisting, she’d pick “grateful.” “Because I am amazed every day at how lucky I am to have such an amazing partner to navigate this life with. He is patient, kind, strong and has an endless capacity to put up with me.” 

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