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What Do Fathers Really Want on Father’s Day?

On my first Father’s Day without a father, I think back to how I celebrated him when I was a child, and what has meant most to me with my own sons.
A father and son enjoy Father's Day on the porch
Credit: Getty Images
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This is the first Father’s Day I have been without a father and the first thing that goes through my mind is that I don’t think I ever did anything special for my dad on Father’s Day.

As a child if I ever asked him what he wanted for a present, he would say, “Make me a nice picture. That would be good enough.” It didn’t seem good enough. Didn’t he want a shirt, a tie, a belt, one of those things advertised in the newspaper for Father’s Day? “A hug and kiss,” he’d say. “That would be nice.”

Maybe. When I think about Father’s Days with my own sons, I don’t remember their gifts as much as what we did together. A ball game with the local kids’ league and everybody getting trophies, fresh-cooked enchiladas from the ladies in the park, picnic dinner on a magical summer night, throwing the Frisbee on the grass, a church service with all of us in the pew singing four-part harmony on the hymns, long talks on that Sunday drive to take the boys to summer camp.

One year as I was kissing Timothy to bed that night, he asked, “You know what I gave you for Father’s Day?”

“What?” I asked.

“A perfect day,” he replied.

Wise child.

If I looked in my father’s bureau, I would be hard pressed to identify any of the belts and handkerchiefs and socks and ties I gave him over the years for Father’s Day. But I can see a picture I once drew framed on the wall and under glass. It’s the memories that last, not the stuff we’re giving away from Dad’s closet. Give that for Father’s Day.

A perfect day is something that keeps forever.

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