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Buying Father’s Day Gifts

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My dad and his girls

It’s Father’s Day this weekend, so of course my dad has been on my mind. He passed away four years ago this summer after a long battle with cancer. It’s still so strange to not buy him a Father’s Day gift.

My parents were living in Denver when he started to decline rapidly. By June, the cancer was too metastatic to stop and his liver was shutting down. I had two sisters in the area, so my other two sisters and I quickly flew into town. We helped my parents set up hospice care, we spent as much time with Dad as we could, and we felt relieved as the hospice nurses got him comfortable.

One Last Gift

I left a few days before Father’s Day, but I couldn’t not give him a gift one last time. My dad was usually so easy to shop for—he was a tool guy. He had an amazing workshop full of carpentry and welding tools, and he worked on cars, engines, wood projects, and repairs. It was always safe to get him a Craftsman tool or a Lowes gift card.

But he was too sick to go into his workshop. What do you give your dad when he needs nothing you can buy?

I landed on pictures of my kids, drawings from my girls, and an iTunes gift card. I just couldn’t not buy him something. He also loved movies and music, so I hoped he’d be able to download something he could watch or listen to while he was in bed.

He never did.

The Unused Gift

My sister gave me back the unused gift card after he died in August. Mom wanted me to have it, and it sat in a drawer, haunting me for a long time. We finally used it on some purchase, and I was glad to have the reminder gone.

As I go to buy Father’s Day gifts for my husband and father-in-law this week, I do think about what we get to take with us. My husband and I tend to not spend a lot on gifts for each other. We’ve never had a lot to spare, I suppose, so it’s just became the norm.

But I do feel this nagging doubt sometimes when I hear friends or family buying huge gifts for their husbands or fathers. Yesterday my sister told me she and her husband are shopping for a new boat to replace the one they already have. My husband is getting some new shorts.

I’m trying to stay focused on the fact that gifts don’t have to be expensive to show our love. When it came to the end, my dad didn’t need that gift card. But he did hang the pictures I brought of his grandbabies by his bed. And he did love having all of his girls together with him.

It Really is the Thought that Counts

Getting out of debt is just not glamorous. I hope one day when we do have more money for gifts, that I never expect a pricey gift to do what any thoughtful gift can. As cliché as it sounds, it truly is the thought that counts. And it’s the thought and the love that lasts.


5 Comments

  • Reply Canan Onat |

    My mom was hospitalized on March 20th with a severe pneumonia and she was in the ICU on Mother’s Day. Then she passed away on June 6th on my birthday. We could not gift her anything this year. On top of that we could not even comfort her, hold her hand and say goodbye.

    • Reply Sara |

      Oh Canan, I’m so sorry. Losing a parent is so terrible, but I can’t imagine going through that during this pandemic. Hang in there.

  • Reply Kiki |

    If I were you, I would completely ignore what people are giving other people. You are putting too much emphasis on the price of a gift. (boat) We all need to learn to appreciate small, thoughtful gifts and gestures.

    Years ago, when I was in the hospital after giving birth to my 3rd child, a friend and her husband came to see me. My friend asked her husband to stop at a store on the way so that she could get me a Hershey’s candy bar. I have never forgotten her thoughtfulness, and that candy bar sure tasted good!

  • Reply Sarah |

    We are not in debt and we do not buy gifts for Mother’s day or Father’s day. Spending time together is the best gift.

    Hamburgers tomorrow with my husband, one of our sons and my.parents.

  • Reply andree |

    My husband and I don’t have kids, and don’t do mothers/ fathers day for various reasons. We love to spoil our nieces and nephews – but we hardly ever buy them traditional christmas / birthday gifts. Instead, our gifts are time. We bring them on adventures (sometimes free, sometimes much more expensive) – caving, beach days, baking adventures, ropes courses, skiing, crafts, playgrounds – we’ve done all sorts of things with them. Each time we ask if they’d prefer keeping up with the adventures, or switching to traditional gifts, they choose the time.

    I started on this as one side of my family always did traditional gifts (some quite large), the other set of aunts and uncles never really bought me christmas or birthday gifts, but did so. much. stuff with me. The ones who never bought me gifts are the ones I still have a close relationship with.

So, what do you think ?