2016 brought us an interesting Father’s Day. We’re usually rampaging through June by Daddy Day so it’s not like I’m always on top of this one, but this particular year we had the perfect storm.
The kids finished school the second week of June. My niece graduated from high school, I wrestled Bear’s hair into micro braids, and we survived BrightSide’s business trip with sanity (sort of) intact. Then Bear went to basketball camp while I packed our lives up for the regional. Next thing I knew we woke up in a hotel at the beach on Father’s Day.
Needless to say, there were no cards or gifts tucked away in our suitcase.
Once we were back home I told the kids we would be celebrating Father’s Day Observed. They were 100% on board, even after I told them there’d be no cake involved. BrightSide was the only one making things complicated.
In an effort to streamline the process I came right out and asked BS what he wanted for a gift. June was exhausting, I didn’t have the brainpower to get creative, and I figured it might be nice if BrightSide actually liked his presents (a crazy thought, I know).
This was a great plan – top notch, really – right up ’til the moment he told me there wasn’t anything he wanted.
Nothing?! You’re seriously telling me there’s nothing you’d like? Okey-dokey…
I let this percolate for a while and then, just when I’d given up hope, inspiration struck.
The whole point of Father’s Day is to show your dad some love, which is how the kids and I ended up having a powwow about BrightSide’s love language.
I’m not even sure how many years it’s been since we read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but it stuck with me. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, the author asserts that people feel truly loved when they receive affection in their particular love language. Quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch – all unique love languages, and all ways to show someone you care.
BrightSide’s a real straightforward guy, so it should come as no surprise that his primary love language is acts of service. (Sadly, I run at a serious deficit in this skill. For real, the simplest things make him happy – a home cooked meal, a clean house, just decluttering – you’d think I’d be better at it by now.) I explained this to T-man and Bear. That BrightSide doesn’t need stuff to feel loved, that the kids can celebrate Father’s Day in their own special way.
To say this concept blew their minds was an understatement. A holiday without a gift wrapped present? Blasphemy!
Once the shock passed I was surprised to find that T-man caught on quickly. He rattled off two or three things he could do for BrightSide and left to make him a card.
As for Bear? Well, she really struggled with this idea. Bear kept suggesting things she would love – gift cards for shopping, certificates to eat out. She had a hard time grasping the insubstantial nature of acts of service. Or maybe it’s just that gifts is Bear’s love language. To-may-to, to-mah-to.
Eventually we got there, though. T-man offered to clean the inside of BrightSide’s car, and Bear gave him an IOU to watch a basketball game on TV together. When he pointed out that they’d have to wait awhile for that she amended it to watching any sport he’d like – “well, anything but golf” – and launched herself onto his lap.
It may have been a week late, and it may have been unusual. But I think it might have also been our best Father’s Day yet.