Gifts for Dad that matter
Fathers have had a hard time of it in recent years. The oldsters will remember T.V. programs such as “Bonanza,” “My Three Sons,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Cosby Show,” and even “I Love Lucy” where fathers were portrayed in an honorable and positive light.
Today, fathers are depicted as bumbling, incompetent, clueless clods on programs such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Simpsons,” and “Family Guy.” Even the male heroes of such notable shows as “24,” the “Law and Order” franchise, and “NCIS” are portrayals of men who are losers at love and family. It’s little wonder that fathers are devalued.
Before the advent of cellphones, the most phone calls of the year were placed on Mother’s Day. The most collect phone calls were placed on Father’s Day. Mother’s Day sermons usually extol the virtues and values of motherhood while Father’s Day sermons typically exhort the dads to “man up” and quit being such a disappointment. Kids put some thought into Mom’s gift on her day, but if a dad receives a gift at all, it is often an afterthought on the night before Father’s Day.
Here are a few gifts that fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, and other “father figures” might actually be pleased to receive:
1. Appreciation. Someone said, “A father is someone who carries pictures where his money used to be.” It is usually the dad who trains the child in the art of athletics but, when the kid reaches the Big Time and is featured on T.V. his comment is, “Hi, Mom!” Dads will just grimly smile and ache on the inside. Napoleon is said to have remarked, “Give me enough medals and I will conquer the world.” He knew the value of appreciation. Do we?
2. Admiration. Or, in another word, “respect.” Even little boys want to be admired by those they care about. The driving motivation for males is the “need for significance.” If he doesn’t get it from his family, he will often seek it elsewhere. What do you admire about your father? Have you ever told him?
3. Affection. Yes, even real men need and desire affection — no matter how crusty they appear. Most little boys become accustomed to hugs and kisses, but somewhere along the way, people think they “outgrow” such displays of affection.
The older my father grew, the more he seemed to want to be hugged by his sons — something we weren’t used to. When he was in his final illness, he delighted in simply having his hand held.
Where did we ever get the idea that our dads don’t need to be told, “I love you?” Give Dad a hug — even a kiss on the cheek. Not in front of his friends, of course — unless you are a daughter.
4. Attention. When I was in my early 30s, I had my last argument with my dad. He continually gave me advice that I considered to be flawed and told him so. Finally, my mom privately said, “David, he just wants to be in your life. He wants to not be ignored.” After that, I listened whenever he gave advice.
To “honor your father” doesn’t mean, for an adult, that you have to obey him. It does, however, mean that we give him our attention.
I learned a lot about my dad’s early years from my cousin, Connie Salyer. Why from her and not from Dad? Because when he was in his final days in the hospital, she was there by his side and listened to his stories. Living 350 miles from my hometown, I wasn’t there and I missed out on something precious.
Want to give Dad a gift? Spend some real time with him. Ask his advice. Ask him to tell you about his own childhood and his early years.
I lost my own father almost 14 years ago. Every Father’s Day since then has brought with it a certain sadness. I wish I could give my Dad some real gifts — not ties or socks or underwear. I wish I could give him — just once — the gifts of appreciation, admiration, affection, and attention.
There were missed opportunities and I regret them deeply. Perhaps for you — and your dad — it is not yet too late.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) . He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]