Parting is such sweet sorrow! It’s their last week co-hosting on the Today show, so Kathie Lee Gifford surprised Hoda Kotb with a parting gift — and, welp, we’re all big puddling messes of emotion right now, because the love these ladies have for each other is special. And after more than a decade of watching them share the screen, their goodbye feels like the end of an era in daytime TV.
Gifford chose Monday’s show to bestow Kotb with the present, timing it to coincide with her final installment of the duo’s popular “Favorite Things” segment. “I said, ‘What do I get my Hoda for 11 years of the joy and honor of sitting next to you?’” an emotional Gifford started, elaborating of her choice in gift, “I know you love it when I give you paintings, but this one — this is by Sydney Clawson, a new friend of mine in Nashville. She’s brilliant and I think you’re going to like this one, Hoda.” Gifford then revealed the portrait of Kotb and her 2-year-old daughter Haley Joy she’d commissioned from Clawson. Beneath the image of the mother and daughter, the words “My joy is non-negotiable” were inscribed. (Per People, the phrase has become a mantra of sorts for Kotb since adopting her daughter in 2017.)
The gesture clearly moved a teary-eyed Kotb, who struggled to gain enough composure to respond. “I love you,” Gifford told her longtime co-host before joking, “I think we’d better go to commercial. Hurry up!”
— Kathie Lee and Hoda (@klgandhoda) April 1, 2019
It’s been a bit of a lovefest between Gifford and Kotb since the former announced in December that she’d decided to leave the network come spring. During an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in February, Kotb couldn’t help but gush about the woman she’d shared so much of her life with, personally and professionally. “I met Kathie Lee, and I got to sit next to a television legend and that doesn’t happen in your lifetime. A legend. We’ve been together for 11 years,” she said, continuing, “The show was a blast, and I just said to Kath the other day, I said, ‘You know what’s funny?’ I feel like every good thing in my life happened after she and I met.”
Kotb went on to elaborate that she met her boyfriend, Joel Schiffman, at a speaking event she scored due to her working relationship with Gifford. The couple then went on to adopt Haley together, prompting Kotb to tell Fallon, “I got to live all these cool dreams after meeting her.”
After this week, Gifford’s last official Today show duties will take place April 5. As her parting day approaches, we can all agree on two things: Gifford knows how to give one heck of a good gift. But, more importantly, NBC won’t be the same without this dynamic duo’s lively hour.