I’m a cynic about the card holidays: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. I blame it on the fact that I am cheap, but the truth is that I always forget the card until the last minute and then have to pick through the leftover dregs. And in the midst of that, I grumble about the fact that these particular holidays seem to benefit Hallmark and American Greetings more than my father, mother, and husband. We’re not a creative family, so we celebrate these holidays by eating a meal. Which is something most of us do three times a day. The card, then, becomes super important, and this leaves me panicked and crabby as I pick through the dregs.
So I took the girls card shopping yesterday afternoon, which was a full 60 hours before panic mode would have set in. I felt proud, organized, and on top of things, but unfortunately we came out empty-handed.
“These are making me sick,” Erin proclaimed after pulling out and opening dozens of cards. “This is stuff I would never say, at least not like this.”
I read the selection of cards, and she was right. They were separated by relational circumstances: Stepfather, Close Relationship, Across the Miles, Daughter, Son, From Both of Us, Daughter-in-law, Son-in-law, From All of Us, Wife (excuse me Hallmark, but why should I buy my husband a Father’s Day card?), and of course, From the Dog. Please. The cards were a mixture of mushy sentimentality – which rarely plays well in our family – and crude humor. Crude humor, I’m ashamed to say, sometimes plays well in our family since our nuclear and extended tribe includes lots of boys that think gas is hilarious. Oh, and one girl. She’s totally corrupted and while we were in the store she brought me a box of fart jokes that she insisted would be a perfect Father’s Day gift. Ixnay. A few cards were simple, short, and sweet, but my thought was that I could whip up a card on the computer and save the $3.49
Now, lest you think that this post reflects nothing more than a ruptured relationship with my father, I should state that Dad and I get along just fine. He has shaped my life in more ways than I can count. He’s been faithful, committed, godly, and a source of laughter and humor in our home. He can also tell a story better than anyone I know, so he gets partial credit for my desire to write.
See? We’re good, Dad and I. And yes, I bought him a card, but it doesn’t say what I would really like for it to say. I rarely find a card that says what’s in my heart so I’m posting my own Father’s Day card, without the gag factor, but with a wee bit of mushy sentimentality. Here goes:
I’m grateful for the social worker who matched my brown eyes to yours, but we were destined to be together long before that. Because God sets the lonely in families, He placed me with you and Mom before there was ever a concept of time. We go way back, you and me. Back to long before you borrowed the car with the air-conditioning so you and Mom could pick me up from Deaconness Hospital in the heat of Summer, 1965.
Before you put together the swing set for my fifth birthday and the bicycle for my sixth birthday.
Before you introduced me to the mountains of Colorado.
Before you pushed me hard to study, and then gave me grace when I didn’t.
Before I wrecked or damaged or every single one of the cars you allowed me to drive.
Before you beamed with pride when I graduated college and then proudly announced I got a (low-paying) job as a newspaper reporter.
Before you stood in the sanctuary, let go of my hand, and placed it in Kyle’s.
Before, with tears streaming down your face, you held my son, your grandson, then my daughter, your granddaughter. And before you held the baby from China, my daughter, your granddaughter.
Before you faithfully and gently cared for my mother until her death.
Before you were alone and I grieved for you, and then you told me that you would be “fine.”
And you are. You are the finest father I could ask for. And God knew you would be. Long before we both got wrinkles around those matching brown eyes.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
I love you.