No ugly ties or argyle socks for this dad on Christmas this year. My four kids know me better than that.
Ten days removed from Christmas, the decorations are put away. My oldest daughter is settled back in at college. The others dread the end of Christmas break as they return to school tomorrow. And I smile now as I reflect on the significance of each of their simple gifts to me, the beauty in the uniqueness of their personalities, and the ways they arrived at their purchases.
From Kal, my 9 year-old, the #1 DAD ink pen. This is most likely my fourth such pen purchased from the elementary school Christmas shop. It represents some of his first efforts into independent shopping and giving. The key is to act like it’s the greatest pen that I’ve ever owned (it’s already broken). The desire to do for others and the joy of giving doesn’t seem to come quite as naturally for boys, so one must work these moments hard. So Kal knows this is, without a doubt, my favorite ink pen.
From my 15 year-old son, a Lynyrd Skynyrd book. I taunted him a few weeks back that he had no idea what he was getting for Christmas. He smiled and proudly exclaimed that “you don’t know what I got for you either…..but it’s from the heart, dad. I promise”, as he grinned and patted me on the shoulder as I’ve done to him so many times before. I don’t think he’s ever put a lot of effort into gift buying in the past. But I knew something was different this year as I watched his birthday money going toward handpicked gifts for his brother and sisters (accompanied by his own personal touch of sloppy gift wrap). Anyway, he has a great appreciation and knowledge for a boy his age of cassette/vinyl era music. We share a common bond and have great conversations about the subject. So I have this vision of him in the bookstore coming upon the Lynyrd Skynyrd book, and his realization that it was the perfect gift for dad. The excitement of giving. Well done my son. Welcome to the world of “the joy of finding and giving the perfect gift”.
From my 16 year-old daughter, the wallet……and thermal underwear…….and Bengal earbuds. My thoughtful child. Starting in November, coming to me repeatedly, asking me for advice about gift-giving ideas for various family members. Wanting to find a perfect or useful gift for everyone on her list. She’s always taken gift-buying (or hand-making gifts) seriously since the days of those first #1 DAD pens. She understands the joy of giving. She’s a detail person, a giver like her mother and I love that about her. I knew she was watching me for months, trying so hard to find something that I needed. I noticed some time ago that she noticed my ratty, worn out wallet. I knew it was coming. She may have been done shopping before December 1st. She takes giving seriously. I love her giving heart.
From my 18 year-old daughter, the Rolling Stones album. A great gift. Maybe even a last-minute gift? I found my albums in crazy order with an album that I would never listen to (Blondie’s Greatest Hits) mysteriously on top on Christmas Eve. Before gifts were exchanged, I jokingly asked the three older kids which one was out shopping and sent sent the text to someone at home “Hey, does dad have _____album?”, but nobody confessed.
Or the gift could have been almost an afterthought, because my oldest daughter knows me deeply. We have this wonderfully unique relationship where we share 1,000 words without speaking, exchanging a glance or a smile and knowing exactly what one another is thinking. I honestly wouldn’t care or notice if nobody gave me anything for Christmas. Macy knows this. Sure, she was gonna do something for her dad for Christmas. But she understands that it’s no big deal if she doesn’t.
We ended up spending Christmas Eve shopping together, not so much because we actually needed to buy gifts…….but just because we could. And that turned out to be the greatest gift that she could have given me.
She isn’t a worrier and doesn’t seem to fret over little things…….has a lot a confidence in her ability to pull things out at the last second, living by the seat of her pants…….like her dad. I love that about her.
I sure hope nobody ever frets about finding a gift for me of any sort. I hope my kids all find joy in giving and doing for others year round. And I’m so very thankful that God made each of them so very unique.
Sometimes a simple pile of gifts can remind us of so much.