June 18, 2011 by rebelwithalabelmaker
It's coming… tomorrow… Fathers around the world will wake up to enthusiastic kids who know that what Dad wants most for Father's Day involves all the kids jumping on his bed first thing in the morning trailing coloured macaroni with bits of glue still attached. They shall thrust forward offerings of Badly Wrapped Crafty Gifts And Breakfast. For some, it will be hard to tell the two apart. This can be a tragedy, as anyone knows who has accidentally taken a bite out of their Mothers' Day gift. The sound of wailing "Aaaaahhh! That's not for EATING!!!" is broken only by one's own thoughts about where said preschoolers' hands spend most of the day, in between crafting bouts…
But I digress (surprise, surprise…).
Gifts are such an interesting thing. I think of the Little House books, or the Anne of Green Gables Series, and how people would spend months knitting or whittling gifts for other people–and how so often the items given on special days made a huge difference to the receivers' comfort or life. Nowadays, the actual item seems to be more of a symbol. I thought of you this much. I know you this well. I remembered…
"What do you buy for someone who has everything?" is kind of a stupid question. What do you feed someone who is not hungry? What do you say to someone who is exhausted and needs sleep? (According to Gary, at 11:00 pm the other night, the answer is apparently "Nothing. You let them sleep."). What a weird thing, to address a filled need with an attempt to create more need…
I think we need to re-think a lot of these traditions. Recognizing people with gifts suited a certain time, place, and culture. Recognizing people on specific dates has always seemed very odd to me–I like to give a gift when an idea presents itself, when someone seems to need a pick me up, or when I feel especially loving. It's almost socially unacceptable to hand someone a new dress I know they'd love "for no reason", yet it's completely fine to hand them a box of chocolates on Dec 25th. To make re-gifting expedient, I think we should wrap them in "Happy Valentine's Day" paper. Let's keep this machine running smoothly.
For the Hummingbirdbrained, this focus on date based gifts is especially troubling. People tend to equate love with keeping track of dates. I'm not sure why this is. Also troubling are the people who keep track not only of the dates, but the actual items given. The idea, I think, is to keep the exchange somewhat equal (which begs the question "then what the heck is the point of exchanging?"). These people tend to get annoyed if you fly them with you on vacation one year, and the next year you give them a jar of jam you made. They wonder if there's something up in the relationship–not realizing that no, it's just that this year you learned to make jam. Then, they wonder if jam isn't supposed to have pectin in it. (Hint: Yes, it is).
My youngest son has it right. Yesterday, he brought me a mush of wrapping paper. Father's day is coming, remember.
"Can I show you?" he said, beaming with pride. He lovingly puled the folds of crumpled "It's a Boy" paper aside and pulled out a single sheet of plain white paper.
"I folded the corners down here and here." he said. "And it's full of love. I made it. Do you think Dad will be happy?"
I know Dad will be happy. It's his favourite kind of gift. The kind that comes with that adorable facial expression…
Tomorrow for Father's Day, I'm going to try something different–I'll let you know how it goes. Every morning for months, Gary wakes up and fights with his overstuffed closet–too many hangers, too many suitcases stored in there, and of course our collection of assorted drugs for any arcane condition you can imagine (Remind me to tell you the story of trying to treat my friend for syphilis. He didn't have syphilis at the time, btw).
My closet is totally empty of clothes–since I've started keeping them by the washer and drier. Tomorrow, I'll hand him the empty space of my closet. He can move over anything he wants to keep (this will take him five minutes), and then I'll take the rest away for him. Keep what needs to be kept, and haul off the rest.
What do you give to someone who has everything?
The better question is, what do you take away?
(This would be a great alternative to a wedding shower for a couple who is merging two houses. A crew of friends arrives with boxes, bags, trucks, and computer expertise. They list things on kijiji, haul stuff away… how much better would that be than toasters and china?).
It's a good gift. For one thing, you can't eat it by accident.