Happy Father’s Day (but skip the gifts)!

I can’t resist sharing something I read as a young dad that was very helpful as I first attempted to change my kid’s (cloth) diapers. It was written by baseball legend Jimmy Piersal in 1968: “Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Put first base and third together, bring home plate up and pin the three together. Of course in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start over again.” By the way, I did get rained out a week ago when I was changing my grandson. Anyway- My dad died when I was a junior in College and I have felt a hole in my heart ever since, like The Little Lost Boy by William Blake (1792): “Father! father! where are you going? O do not walk so fast. Speak, father, speak to your little boy, Or else I shall be lost.” The night was dark, no father was there; The child was wet with dew; The mire was deep, & the child did weep, And away the vapour flew. When I got married at twenty-four and became a dad at twenty-seven, I felt a little like Bill Cosby who said,I guess the real reason that my wife and I had children is the same reason that Napoleon had for invading Russia: it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Forty years, five children, and four grandchildren later, I still do not feel very competent at this fathering business which may be the reason why I have always felt a little funny with all the recognition heaped upon fathers on Father’s Day. In a very interesting article written this week in TIME magazine, Brad Tuttle asked the question, Why is it that it’s so difficult to buy gifts for dads on Father’s Day? The answer, which many marketers and quite a few sons and daughters don’t want to hear, is that plenty of dads truly don’t want anything that’s bought in a store. Many of these gifts, in fact, will leave dad in a state of discomfort that the purchases were made, likely at full price—because someone or other decided that it was a ‘hot’ Father’s Day gift item.” In fact according to a survey, the most popular “gift,” chosen by 40% of dads, was “quality time with family (dinner, grilling, planning an outing).” The second most popular option was for no gift — chosen by 22% of dads. And in a distant third place was a gift card, selected by 13% of dads. The article finished by saying, “the message most dads are sending is this: ‘Please, don’t waste your money on me.’” I really agree with this, but not just for the economics of it all. There is this nagging sense that I really don’t deserve what is being given to me because of a deep sense of inadequacy that I feel about my fathering. Now before you conclude that I have a complex, hear me out. I am very aware of my self-centeredness and pride, and very much aware (as Martin Luther once said) that “if left to myself, I will bring it all to destruction.” God in his grace has not left me to myself. He has shown me mercy and forgiveness in Christ and though I still feel the gravitational pull of my sinful nature, I earnestly desire to display his holiness and righteousness. God has also given me a wonderful woman who has partnered with me, challenged me, and balanced me in every area of my life over these last forty years of marriage. I have already received the greatest gifts a man could ever want, so why would I desire anything from Kohls or Walmarts? What I want on Father’s Day is to be with or talk with my kids and hear them say they love me, that they forgive me of any hurts I may have caused, and that they respect me as a man and for my faithfulness to the gospel.

3 thoughts on “Happy Father’s Day (but skip the gifts)!

  1. My Fathers Day gift will be the morning and afternoon to myself so I can get an important home improvement project done. It took my wife few minutes to grasp that I really did want that over a big dinner out, new pants, or a day at the zoo.

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