I’ve been giving some thought to all of the cool stuff I made or bought for my Dad on Father’s Day over the years.
The love behind the gifts was unconditional of course, though the range of what the an 8 year-old could fashion out of modelling clay and pipe cleaners may have been somewhat limited. In those days, you could make your Dad a coffee mug. Even if he didn’t drink coffee or tea, it didn’t matter, because the mug would usually be comically lop-sided and as leaky as a sieve. Dad could use the mug to hold pens and pencils on his desk. Hopefully, the desk had ample room for the paperweights and ashtrays which you had made for him on Father’s Days gone by.
When I got old enough to hit my mother up for money and a ride to the store, I’d get Dad a tie.
I look at the world these days and wonder what kids could possibly be cranking out to give to Dad today. The coffee mug is still a classic, but with the advent of computers, I don’t know how many fathers really need all that much pen storage. Similarly, the paperweight is all but obsolete. Who needs to hold down papers in paperless cubicle? Everyone knows how politically incorrect ashtrays have become, and using one to hold paperclips would require an office with papers in it.
Casual workplaces and tele-commuting make neck ties about as relevant as a new needle for the Victrola. The opportunities for many Dads to wear ties are rarer all the time. Dad won’t want to hurt their feelings, but perhaps someday the youngsters will understand why he can’t wear that nice NASCAR necktie they gave him to Aunt Tilly’s funeral.
Madison Avenue has been bombarding us with ads for power tools, golf clubs and European sedans as ways to honor our Dads. Despite the efforts of advertisers, it’s doubtful that many in the 10 and under set were out buying Dad a radial arm saw or BMW this past week. As nice as it would be to have a new toy, Dads know better than to pin those wishes for a day like this. That’s what mid-life crisis birthdays and inheritances are for.
I’m not sure what has become of the various ashtrays and coffee mugs which my own kids made for me on Father’s Days gone by. I can still picture what my daughters and son must have looked like as they wrapped up their school year and finished the projects they’d made for me. I suppose as long as I have those pictures in my mind, the actual lump of painted clay doesn’t matter all that much.
We don’t need papers to appreciate a nice paperweight after all.