To call my Dad the Gift Giver might be a bit of an overstatement. Gift giving would have been pretty close to the bottom of his list of talents when we were kids, even below housekeeper and chef. But the gifts he did give were memorable.
Years ago, riding in the car with my Charlie, we talked about my father and his gift giving. Honestly, I don’t remember how we got on the topic, but we did. We began by talking about Christmas stocking stuffers from my childhood, which included fruits and vegetables, courtesy of Santa. From there we progressed to the odd and unique gifts given over the years by family members whom we won’t name, things like broken pencils and used erasers given just for the sake of gift opening, the tearing of the wrapping far more fun than the prize inside.
My father, a very bright man, liked to make the most of whatever he did. Gift giving was no different, and the time he spent in this endeavor needed to be well-thought out and well-spent. I have to believe he spent weeks if not months coming up with his gift ideas, ideas that could cross over his 5 children separated not just by gender but by 10 years in age.
So there are those gifts he gave which I didn’t fully appreciate until I became a parent myself, including the scotch tape year. I think perhaps I was about 5 years old, which means my siblings were 4, 9, 12 and 14, and each of us received a sealed roll of scotch tape. All of our own. Whoopie. Thanks, Dad. Wow. Scotch tape. Amazing. And yet, it was. Think about it. When your kids are little, a roll of Scotch tape accidentally left out in the open was toast, gone in a second, wrapped around anything it could find, animate or not. Tape is like the most sought after item in any house, except when it’s wrapped up and given as a gift to kids for Christmas, at which time it becomes the crappiest gift ever, something to be ridiculed in the annals of family lore.
There was the year of the kimono bathrobes. Again, the 10 year age difference and I think even my mother was included in that gift on that particular year, each of us receiving a different weird-colored robe made out of some thin microfiber-type, uncomfortable, non-absorbent cloth.
The cool thing about my Dad was that he tried. He really did. My sister and my sister-in-law and I received some lovely jewelry from him as adults, silver chokers and birth stone pendant necklaces, jewelry I still treasure to this day for its thoughtfulness and love. And far more long-lasting than the rolls of tape. The gift of the gift giver is often not the gift itself, but the memory of the thought, the thought that brought about the gift in the first place. And so perhaps to call my Dad the Gift Giver is accurate after all.