15 Just What I've Always Wanted
No matter how humble the contents of a package, Dad always took care to appreciate the time and thought that went into selecting a store-bought gift or the skill that went into making one. When we were young and had no money to buy Dad gifts, we often relied on imagination to make up for a shortage of shopping funds. Dad beamed with pleasure upon opening a coin pouch made at summer camp, a note redeemable for washing and waxing his car, or a homemade card with a message of a prayer said in his honor.
But even when our buying power increased through money from odd jobs and baby-sitting, we sometimes ran short on imagination. Still, Dad made our bland gifts seem like dreams come true. When he opened a plain white shirt just like the ones he wore to work, he would appear delightfully jolted as if he'd never seen anything like it. He'd pull the shirt out of the bag reverently and comment on its features. "Oh, this is really nice," he'd say, pointing out the button-down collar or extra-long shirttail. Then he'd carefully remove the packaging and try it on. "It's exactly what I needed," he'd say several times in between praising the quality of workmanship and tidiness of the fabric. All the while, we watched, wallowing in the pleasure of pleasing Dad.
Over the years, we gave Dad a full closet of shirts—plaid flannels for the cold, short-sleeved knits for golf, and long-sleeved Oxford shirts for church and work. We gave him miles of ties. We gave him implements of leisure such as golf balls and gloves and fishing poles, and things to nurture hobbies like tools for woodworking and gardening.
If the color or size wasn't perfect, or if his toolbox already held in triplicate the tool we gave him, Dad didn't let on . He made us feel so good about our gifts that Father's Day became an occasion we all looked forward to.
I suspect Dad was always more comfortable with giving gifts than receiving them. I figure that's what made him so good at appreciating our simple gifts--his ever-present awareness that every gift that comes to you brings an opportunity to give one back in the form of gratitude.
Dad's manner of receiving even the most mediocre of presents was a simple but enduring gift for our family. Although he is no longer with us, his gift lives on in our memories.
(By Susan Sarver)