In Friday Fun

For Friday Fun, I’m going to share the ultimate Father’s Day gift. Everywhere you look you can see suggestions for the gift that will make dead old dad happy. Here’s my take on it.

I’ve been a Father’s Day gift recipient for 43 years; and I was a Father’s Day gift giver for 59 (admittedly, mom picked several of those for me). I’m going to tell you the ONE gift that every dad would love to receive. It won’t cost you a dime, but you might have to spend some time making it.

Write Dad a Letter.
Write a letter to dad. Don’t send a text; don’t send a card with a couple of lines in it. Don’t write this letter on your computer and email it, even as an attachment. Don’t even print it and send it. Write it with a pen on a real piece of paper. It might be hard. You might have to start over. You’ll have to give some thought about what you want to say and where you want to say it because you can’t cut and paste or delete and start a sentence over without starting the whole thing over. But you have over a week, so get started.

Write About Memories.
Dads might seem like they know everything. At certain ages, we’re all convinced our parents are clueless, but eventually we come to realize they knew what they were talking about. Even though dad might seem like he always had it together, I can tell you he didn’t. Most dads go through life hoping and praying they’re doing the right things for their kids, but they’re not sure. They like to know that they did at least a few things right. So, write about what good memories you have from your childhood or your adult association with dad. It doesn’t have to be the trip to Disneyland or the new boat. If you have a memory about something minor that is still significant to you, let dad know. Tell him you actually found some of his dad jokes funny, but you couldn’t laugh because it wasn’t cool. If there was a time when you were especially proud of your father, tell him. Tell him that now you have kids of your own, you can appreciate the concern he expressed about where you were going and who you were with and what time you’d be home.

Tell Stories About Yourself.
One thing dads love to hear is what their kids did, especially if those stories show that the values that dad tried to instill took root. One time our daughter, who played competitive soccer, told us about a trip with the team. Several of the girls were using vulgar language, something that we tried hard to prevent. After several minutes of listening to this, our daughter spoke up and said it offended her to hear that and politely asked the team to watch their language. They respected her request and thereafter if anyone started to swear, someone would say, “hey, watch your mouth.” We were so proud of her for living the values we’d tried to teach, and hearing that story was such a joy. It’s been over 15 years since she related that story to us, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Tell Dad You Love Him.
This can be hard for guys. Guys aren’t supposed to show emotion to other guys. It was especially hard for me. My parents’ generation wasn’t big on showing emotions. I knew my dad loved me, but I don’t recall hearing him say it, and I don’t recall saying it to him. Now that dad’s gone, I can’t tell him. It’s too late for me; don’t make it too late for you.

Keep a Copy of Your Memories.
This is a bonus tip. As you think about the memories you have of your own childhood and your dad, write them down for your own kids. In his later years, my dad became quite a writer. He wrote about his views of God; politics; the state of society. And he wrote memories of his own childhood. He wrote about growing up on a sheep ranch, of the smells of alfalfa and hay and how he could still smell them in his mind. Of spending time in a sheep camp, watching the sheep in their summer pasture. Write your memories down and keep them for your own children to read one day. Your children won’t know your father except as an elderly grandpa. They won’t know him as a younger man, as the father you remember. If you keep those memories of dad, it will be a bridge between generations. Give your father the gift of keeping his memory alive for his grandchildren.

Happy Father’s Day!

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