Father’s Day Gifts

Like so many things in my life, Father’s Day has changed.  When I was a child, Father’s Day meant getting out my paper and crayons and making a home-made card for my father, to accompany the gift I had either made or purchased for a quarter at the local Ben Franklin store.  As I grew older, the cards and gifts I gave to my dad on Father’s Day became more sophisticated and expensive, but they were no more sincere than the clay ashtray I made for him two years after he gave up smoking. (I honestly don’t remember why that seemed like a good idea.)  And then came that afternoon in the grocery store five years ago when, out of sheer habit, I headed for the greeting card aisle to buy a Father’s Day card, before I suddenly and sadly realized that I no longer had either a father or a father-in-law to acknowledge with a card.

These days, my family’s Father’s Day celebrations are centered on my husband, who has been a father for almost thirty years now.  We usually meet at a restaurant of my husband’s choosing, since what he always wants most for Father’s Day is simply to spend time with his kids. (I try not to dwell on the fact that he always chooses to go out for a meal rather than have me cook it, as that could be a judgement on my cooking skills.)  It’s always a happy gathering, as we are fortunate to have wonderful relationships with our son and daughter and their significant others, and I know how lucky I am to have married a man who is not only a great husband, but a terrific father as well.

Still, there is always something a little bittersweet about Father’s Day.  Partly, it is the memories of the fathers that my husband and I have lost.  I don’t think we ever outgrow the desire to have a father in our lives, or ever stop missing them when they are gone.  All we can do is be grateful for the time we did have with them, the good memories, and the wisdom that they passed on when they shared the best of themselves with us.

Mom 1

And even as we are enjoying the company of our adult son and daughter, there is always a small part of us that remembers, and misses, the sweet years when they were growing up. I remember my toddler daughter running across the lawn to greet my husband when he came home from work, calling “Dee!  Dee!” as she ran.  (“Daddy” was still too hard for her to say.) And my husband still cherishes the framed, painted handprint my son made him in Sunday school class when he was just three years old.  Even though he always worked at a demanding, full-time job, my husband found time to be very active in our children’s lives, coaching their sports teams, advising them, playing games with them, and generally just being there whenever they needed him.

So, yes, Father’s Day is a bit more complicated now that I am in late middle age, but it is still a very good day.  It’s a time to remember and appreciate the father and father-in-law I had, to cherish the memories of my husband’s relationship with our kids while they were growing up, and to celebrate the family we are now.  Sometimes complicated is good.

 

34 thoughts on “Father’s Day Gifts

  1. A lovely poignant post Ann. So special to remember all the happy times we shared with our fathers. Also, don’t think of it that your husband doesn’t want your cooking, it’s that he wants you to relax and share in the enjoyment of the day with him. xo 🙂

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    • Thank you, Miriam! And that’s a very nice way to look at my husband’s preference for going to a restaurant on Father’s day, rather than have me cook. Because that means it has nothing to do with the fact that the smoke alarm almost always goes off at some point when I’m cooking a big family meal!

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  2. Life surely does change, Ann. I can relate to that story about walking into a store to buy a card, as I’m sure others can as well. I’m hope you and your family shared a wonderful Father’s Day however the honoree chose to spend the day..:) I’m sure you helped make it special for him…:)

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    • Thank you, George! I’m sure many of us can relate to how the depth of our losses can hit us so suddenly, and sometimes in unexpected ways. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Father’s Day as well!!!

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  3. Beautiful post, Ann. Your husband sounds like a wonderful Dad. I personally think it’s one of the best traits we women can choose in a husband, an awesome Dad to our kids. Also I had to laugh when you mentioned the clay ashtray you made for your Dad. I remember making my Dad the same thing. To think it was totally acceptable to make them in school back then. Times sure have changed. I really love your posts.

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    • Yes, remember when an ash tray was one of the suggestions our teachers (and scout leaders) made when were were trying to come up with a gift for our fathers? Different times for sure! And I completely agree about the importance of a husband being a good father. It truly is one of the main things to look for in a life partner if we are planning to have kids.
      PS: I always love your posts, too. You are a very gifted writer!

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  4. Touching, and bringing to mind my own dad, not having realised it was Father’s Day. Actually, here in England little is made of it in comparison to Mother’s Day. I suppose that’s a result of a patriarchal inheritance itself, wherein the poor women were granted just one day a year where they took centre stage, whilst the men had the other 364.

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    • Here in the USA, Mother’s day is also a bigger deal than Father’s Day, but Father’s Day is still pretty widely acknowledged. I’m glad that the times have changed to be more inclusive of women and to recognize our important contributions to society. Sometimes I’m very glad I wasn’t born 30 before my time….I think I would have struggled to fit in!

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  5. What a lovely post. We took my dad out to lunch today and I am thankful to still have him with us. I know this will not always be the case. Hope you and your family have a wonderful rest of the day!

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  6. I’m glad you have such happy memories and miss your dad. Missing him means he was very special and you loved him so much. Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all – eh? And now you have your sweet hubby and children to cherish! 🙂

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  7. When my sister and I cleaned out our childhood home when our mother moved, there were a few items like your ashtray, but I was amazed what my parents had kept (or maybe had forgotten about). One thing in abundance was the homemade cards. I found many years of homemade cards for every occasion. Dad used to say that just about anything homemade was so much better than just about anything store bought. I am sure your father loved your cards and that ashtray, never mind it was after the fact. It sounds like your father shared “the best of” himself with you, Ann. 🙂

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    • I think your father was absolutely right! Homemade cards and gifts are the ones that are cherished for years, even if they aren’t always usable. We have a stash of things that our kids made us over the years, and we have no intention of parting with them. Thank you for your kind comment!

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  8. Touching post, Ann! Your husband sounds like a wonderful father, and actually I think you can see it there in that photograph in the eyes of your children. I’m still at the stage when my kids live with me, but they’re fast approaching the point where they will move out into the world. Father’s Day, birthdays and (especially) Christmas are always slightly tinged these days with the sadness of something coming to an end.

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    • That’s one of my favorite photos of my husband and kids, actually. And I know exactly what you mean..those last few holidays when the kids still live at home are extra special, because you know they are coming to an end. Sort of like the last day of a very fun vacation! Trust me, future holidays will still be special, but there’s no denying they are also different.

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        • Exactly, it’s fun, just different. For me, even though I sometimes miss the days when my kids were young, I really enjoy the relationship I have with them now. Things just keep evolving, and in a good way. Plus, my husband and I get a lot more sleep than we did when the kids were teens living at home!

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