Tag Archives: gifts

When Father’s Day Is A Fat Hen’s Day

(Warning: Possible downer post below. I say possible because I’m not sure how I’ll end this. I’m not feeling hugely optimistic and upbeat, learning some kind of lesson through it all. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see a bright, beautiful rainbow at the end of this post. I truly have no idea where this post is going to lead me. All I know is I feel crummy in this moment.)

I’m writing this on Father’s Day night. But not posting it for a few days. I want the fun and the good thoughts and the raves about all the dads out there to die down. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.

Don’t get me wrong. The Father’s Day we had, together as a family (kids and me and my husband) was awesome. We went hiking. We ate at my husband’s favorite German restaurant. We came home and he napped. Then, it was off to Tai Chi class. It was the perfect day for him. And I’m so glad.

But my phone call with my own father, 1000 miles away. Lackluster. Awkward. And sad.

The very first Father’s Day gift I ever remember giving him was a card. A card I had made. Out of construction paper and crayons. And he laughed. “Fat Hen’s Day? What in the world is Fat Hen’s Day?” I was probably about 7 or 8. With the penmanship of a 7 or 8 year old. I was crushed. I had worked hard on that card. So there was a space between the t and h of father. So my r dipped down a little and looked more like an n. He didn’t have to laugh. And it didn’t have to be part of the family jokes in the years to come. “Hey, isn’t Fat Hen’s Day coming up?”

Reflecting on this early memory? It feels a little out of place. I have so many happy, fun, loving memories of my father. He was silly. He loved puns. He could always make us laugh. But my Fat Hen’s Day card? In that moment, I was the butt of the joke. And it didn’t feel good.

And then there was last year.

I have always given my parents something, some kind of gift for Mother’s and Father’s day. My husband would just call and sometimes send a card to his parents. It wasn’t until we were married that he (and by that, I mean I) started sending a little gift. His parents were always so appreciative.

There was always a twinge of expectation with my own parents. And last year was no exception.

My dad, a voracious reader, would appreciate a gift card to Barnes and Noble, right? Of course right. (You can’t buy my dad a book because invariably, he’s already read it.) When I called him on Father’s Day, he thanked me for the gift card and said, “Yeah, I’ll be able to buy a…..newspaper with it.” And laughed. Money was tight for us. I couldn’t afford a lavish gift that year. I sat there stunned. And then defended my gift, suggesting some latest new releases (in hardcover) that he’d be able to purchase with his card. My heart sank. I’d disappointed him again.

This year I didn’t send a gift. I sent a card. I called. And he spent the conversation sharing with me all the things my sisters were doing for him. The gifts received. Blah, blah, blah. I barely listened. I’m tired of feeling hurt.

He and I used to have a close relationship. Well, a closer relationship. A relationship my mother was always so very jealous of. And so, my mother has come between us and we barely have a relationship at all.

When the conversation came to a close I said, “Well, I hope you have a great day, Dad. I love you!” And he said, “Thanks for calling.”

Click.

No “I love you, too.”

I suppose that was my sting for this year.

(And because I can’t possibly end on that sad note I’ll share with you a favorite clip from Bill Cosby. One of my dad’s favorite comedians – and one we thought my dad resembled: sense of humor, facial expressions. I could use a little giggle right about now.)

Advertisements

31 Comments

Filed under family, Lessons Learned

Yes, Dear Bloggers, There IS A Santa Claus!

I believe in Santa Claus. I’m shocked when I meet someone who doesn’t. In fact, just recently, I was perusing your blogs out there and I found not one, not two but three blogs out there dedicating posts to the evils of Santa Claus. Santa = Evil?!? And there were comments, lots and lots of comments agreeing with them. I was angry. I was outraged. I vowed never to read those blogs again. I started taking names to avoid reading the blogs of people agreeing with such blasphemy.

And then I stopped myself. Jane, I said to myself, You believe in God. You are comfortable with Jesus being a saviour. You have friends who don’t. Who very vehemently do not believe in a God at all. You read their blogs. You’re fine with their difference of opinion, faith and beliefs.  You preach, “One mountain, many paths.” How can you completely disregard another blogger’s right to disagree with your belief in Santa Claus? How can ONE post nullify all the other posts you read by them and enjoyed? So….reluctantly….because logic won with this internal struggle…..I re-bookmarked all three of those blogs and I tore up my McCarthy list.

But not without defending my stand!

When my daughter was about three years old a friend told me about a wonderful Santa that I absolutely must take her to. We did.  He was elderly. (Of course) He had a genuine white beard and longer white hair. (Of course) He wore a red suit with shiny buttons and he sat out in his sleigh every night between Thanksgiving and December 23 (because he’s very busy on the 24th!) listening to the children, finding out about their lives, helping them to narrow their lists (he only allowed 2 toys because his sleigh was only so big!) and chatted with the parents. He must have had an eidetic memory. Through the years he would remember what school my daughter attended, her love of gymnastics, that she had a cat, even a few of the gifts he had brought her in the past. Before any of you start jumping up and down yelling, “Creepy!” I can assure you (and I’m quite sensitive to creepiness) it never, ever, ever, ever appeared creepy. He was genuine. He was sweet. He was Santa Claus.

And he did this out of the goodness of his heart. He was a member of our community – recently retired. His many acres of property were decorated with Christmas lights that brought people from miles around. He dedicated his time to help children believe in kindness, in goodness, in unconditional giving. He cared about the children in his community and took collections to “pay his light bill” and to give to the local Boys and Girls Club. He reminded them to study hard in school, mind their parents, brush their teeth. He reinforced strong values and the “real” reason for the season.

There is a 10 year age difference between my daughter and my sons. So for a time – she felt too old to see Santa in person – we skipped visiting. Oh sure, we always rode by to see the lights. If he wasn’t busy with another child he always waved to those passing by. But then we moved to another part of the county and once my boys arrived we skipped seeing Santa because we felt they were too young.

Then, they were 3 and 2 years old. They were ready! And I was so excited. I couldn’t wait for Santa to see how our daughter had grown. To meet her two new brothers. We talked to the boys about Santa. My daughter filled them in on what was to come Christmas morning. She helped them make a list. Just before we turned down the street I cried, “Let’s look for Santa!” But the street was dark. Only a porch light was on at the house. The area for parking wasn’t marked off anymore. My #1son asked, “Where Santa?” My husband quickly piped up, “Oh no! He’s not here tonight. I forget to check the schedule. I’ll bet he’s at the mall this evening.” It’s a good thing my husband spoke up. I couldn’t. A tear made its way down my cheek.

When we got home I scoured the internet. I found our local online paper. The headline read “County Santa Will Return to the North Pole.” I was crushed. But he was getting older. His health wasn’t as good. And he just couldn’t keep up the hours anymore. He had been doing it for 13 years from 6pm until 8pm every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The article showcased parent after parent talking about all he meant to their child’s vision of Christmas and to our community.  He truly was Santa to all of us.

Santa is not about commercialism. He’s not about greed. He’s about giving for the sake of making someone else’s eyes light up. He’s about wonder and imagination. He’s about love and kindness. And if you’re looking, you will see him. He may not be dressed up in a red suit. His beard may not have grown in. You will find his spirit in every act of generosity and grace during this wonderful season. But you have to be willing to suspend your cynicism. You have to be willing to accept gifts without the expectation of something in return. To my knowledge, Santa doesn’t discriminate. As long as you believe, the gifts will come. Some are wrapped. Some are not. Some are obvious gifts. Some you realize as a gift only later.

 But Santa is real. If only you believe.

18 Comments

Filed under children, Holiday