Wanting Nothing

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” — Sylvia Plath

When I was a kid and my mother would ask me what I wanted for Christmas I should have said:

  • I want my family to stay together
  • I want a solid dream I can aspire to
  • I want real friends who will last a lifetime

But instead I said I wanted a toy train, a Walkman, some Andy Kapp hot fries, or some other whim of the moment that I lost interest in rather quickly, or that broke because I didn’t treat it well, or that I ate up and it disappeared. I didn’t wish for the intangibles because they are intangible, and for a kid it’s all about TANGIBLE. I mean, can I touch it? Can I squeeze it? Can I look at it? I wanted something in my hands because to me that was real, not the things I took for granted. I realized as I got older that my values seriously had to change, that I couldn’t keep taking things for granted because there would be nothing REAL left to hang my hat on.

Now I see my kids being the same way, and I’m working on making sure they appreciate the real things in life instead of what’s on the surface. When the toy catalog came out Alexa decided she was going to go through it and circle all the toys she wanted Santa to bring her. She showed it to me after relinquishing the magic marker, and I realized that most of the items were circled. If she did get all of them from Santa some kids in a town with a population of 1000 in rural Idaho would get absolutely nothing as the tradeoff. When I told her this, about inequity, she seemed to understand, but that didn’t stop her from wanting EVERYTHING.

So I’m trying to teach her, to teach both of my children, about wanting nothing, about appreciating whatever you get, even if you get nothing material, because not everyone is fortunate enough to get new things. Not everyone is blessed enough to get even one of their wishes fulfilled. That’s the kind of world we live in. But she has two parents who love her, who are there for her, and who spend time with her, three amazing gifts that aren’t able to be exchanged, and that not every kid has. I would know. And as much as I hope she never has to be without any of them, I want her to understand that she shouldn’t take them for granted, that anything could happen at any time, and that appreciating what you have and wanting for nothing else is priceless.



What Dad Really Wants

black-father-and-daughterAs Father’s Day approaches (in just one week) I am reminded once again of making things for my dad when I was little. Small things really, like a paper tie, a pocket protector made from construction paper, a church made out of popsicle sticks, numerous cards I created myself, and the list went on. Most of these items were easily made out of school supplies, and at school, but they were also made well ahead of time because school was always over by then. And he always seemed amazed by each and every gift, as if it was the best thing he had ever gotten in his entire life.

Then I got older and my dad wasn’t around, so I pretty much forgot all about Father’s Day. I mean, I still called him on the day to wish him a good holiday, but sometimes he wasn’t there, and I only left him a message on his machine. It seemed good enough at the time. Then I got older still and I didn’t even call him, but he never called me either so I felt like it was okay. Many years passed, and I became a father myself, then the holiday became magical again.

Now I get those same types of items from my children that I gave my dad when I was their age, and now I know why he smiled and was overcome. Not because the gifts were amazing in their own right, but because of the thought that goes into each and every one of them. I proudly wear my paper ties for several days after the holiday so I can proudly tell everyone I know that my kid made them for me. So, as a dad, I appreciate every one of those unique, special gifts, BUT what if dads could get what we really wanted on that one day in June every year?

Here’s what Dad Really Wants:

  1. Some peace and quiet. If you’re a father worth his salt, you know that you spend tons of time running around with and after your kids. It’s all great fun, but you’re not as young as you used to be, right? So it’s harder to keep up all the time. On Father’s Day you should just be allowed to snuggle up with your kids and take a nice nap right in the middle of the day. That would be perfect.
  2. No store-bought cards. There is nothing better than getting a card full of stickers and crayon-filled drawings of you (even if they look like the Loch Ness Monster instead). It means your kids spent actual time trying to make something perfect for you, and that’s so special it should inspire tears of joy.
  3. 11361-black-father-daughterThat personal touch. Maybe surprise Dad with a scavenger hunt where the end prize is something picked out or made by the kids.You can even give him a hand-made map and go around with him telling him when he’s hot and cold. Then make X mark the spot, and see his eyes light up when he finally locates it.
  4. Wants, not Needs. It is not the time to pick Dad up some socks because his have huge holes in them, or to give him a gift certificate to the barber shop because his hair is overdue for a trim. Remember that you love Dad just the way he is, and that all that stuff is not just his preference, but it fits into the “Need” category. Give him something he has been talking about for months like that new XBox game or belt clip for his cell phone.
  5. Something from Mom. Whether or not you’re together as a couple anymore, if Dad is doing his best as a father, give him credit for it, Mom, even if just in a card or a little acknowledgement the next time you drop the kids off at his place. While we might not all be great husband material, if we are rockin’ it as a father, it would be nice to have it acknowledged, even if just once a year. **This also works for mothers on Mother’s Day, Dads.

What Dad really wants is a day to remember, not a run-through of some scripted program you think he ought to have. Think about what makes Dad truly special, then treat him like it, and show him you know what his wants are too, that you’re thinking about him. I guarantee he’ll love that so much more than you just giving him something made of popsicle sticks because everyone in your class is doing the same thing. Give him that craft, but also personalize something else for him too!

The real key, though, is to think about Dad the other 364 days of the year, and make sure he knows it. Because if you’re giving him something on just one day, and spending time with him on just one day and you think that’s enough, then something wrong, and he’ll know it. Make sure Dad knows you appreciate him always, on every day, just as much as he shows you that you’re special to him. That’s the real glory of having a dad who cares about you and who shows it, that you can show him in return.

That’s what Dad really wants.


To Post or Not to Post

The post office is usually full this time of year, with people mailing out over-sized cards who don’t know how much postage goes on them, with people sending out their extra-large packages to family and friends far and wide, and with people picking up those same sized packages from that same group of family and friends. But in this age of post office issues, of the rise of UPS and FedEx, you would think the last place people would be is in the post office at any time of year. You would be wrong.https://i0.wp.com/iowabackroads.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/post_office_50278_zearing.jpg

In fact, post office traffic is larger this year at Christmas-time than in any time in the past five years, and I can think of at least three reasons for this. 1) Internet giants like amazon.com, bestbuy.com, and barnesandnoble.com offer the cheapest shipping (and often times free shipping) on items sent through the USPS. This, combined with comparable delivery times to UPS and FedEx, serves to keep the post office going strong, at least right now. 2) People still send out Christmas cards like clockwork, and not many take advantage of the usps.com print-your-own-stamps program, so they still line up to send their cards. 3) While shipping boxes and envelopes are found much more cheaply at stores like Target, most people purchase the boxes and envelopes available at the post office because they are in a last-second rush. This combination, this perfect storm, encourages more foot traffic even now, at this time of year, to your local post office, so get there early.


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