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Does Dad want a Father's Day gift?

Absolutely, he does, but -- if you ask him – it's probably not the kind you see advertised.

By doubleace Jun 15, 2011 1:19PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


Fully realizing that I was jeopardizing the nation's stuttering economic recovery, I took a big step a couple of weeks ago.


I told my children I did not want them to buy any Father's Day gifts. You would have thought I'd blown their inheritance on a craps table in Vegas.


"You're no fun," Cassandra immediately responded. Amy took a few more words to chastise me, but it is never good when a daughter starts an email with "Dad" in that tone of type. 


I was feeling like whatever the Father's Day equivalent of the Grinch is until I read this post by Kathleen Surdan, who blogged on WaylandPatch about picking a gift for her husband, Ken.


Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place: I asked my husband for ideas and emailed several of his friends asking what they'd like for Father's Day.
I was stunned when five of Ken's buddies immediately wrote back to me. I was surprised, too, when they all gave similar responses to my question.
"At this point in my life, I value time with the family more than anything," said Jon. "These days, simply hanging with (sons) Mike and Nick makes for a great day."  
"We do not give gifts," said Dave. "We are all so busy. We take advantage of the day and get together with the family. That's the best gift of all -- time with the family."
Tom wants to "have some time to relax and enjoy one another's company doing something we enjoy as a family."
Ray agreed that gifts were not necessary, instead "just a nice day out with the family doing some fishing. It's not about a present; it's about doing what Dad wants to do."

Now, I love presents, especially from my daughters, both superb gift givers. Post continues after video. 

Cassandra, who used to sell for Nordstrom, has a knack for buying me clothes I would never pick out myself, but which always draw compliments when I wear them.


Amy specializes in the unusual. A framed 1930s pinup drawing, tickets to a singalong showing of "Grease" in the Hollywood Bowl, and  -- my favorite -- the complete collection of Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons. 

Here are my arguments against Father's Day -- and birthday -- presents (Christmas is different, but we definitely need to tone it down a bit):

  • I have everything I need. I must have 50 shirts, all nice. However, I have room for just a dozen or so in the closet, so those are the ones I wear. The others sit folded in drawers, awaiting their call to the big leagues.
  • Gifts cost. My children are not broke, but they are in their 40s, a time of life when expenses seem to run no more than a half-stride ahead of income. There are better ways to spend what little they have to spare.
  • Receiving gifts is uncomfortable. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because Father's Day has become so commercialized that I feel my kids are pressured to buy. Maybe it's because as the parent, I feel I should be giving, not taking. Maybe I'm just weird. But as Surdan's above post shows, I am not alone.

 The two best "presents" I have received in the past few years were:

  • On her Facebook page in November, Cassandra, who lives 1,200 miles away, wrote: "Today I am thankful for my dad ... I called him tonight and he is always so happy to hear from me! He always says, 'Hey Sweetie! What's new at your household? How's school/student teaching? How's Mike? How are my beautiful granddaughters?' He is always so excited to talk! I love you, Dad, and I miss you very much!"
  •  And this week, Amy, who lives a mere 125 miles away, is running a photo of me as her profile picture on Facebook in celebration of Father's Day.

 You can't buy stuff like that.

(Blogger's note: If you're sick of reading maudlin drivel like this, read my MSN Money colleague Bob Trott's compelling case for the father being the better parent, or watch this CNET video on really bad gifts, which was recommended by Bargain Babe.)  

More on MSN Money:

Jun 16, 2011 9:38AM
I'm with you. I hate getting gifts and would much rather turn it all off. I think a big part of it is that I know how bad I stress out giving gifts. V-Day, Mothers Day (x3 - wife, mother, mother-in-law), Fathers Day, birthdays (x too many to count), anniversary, Christmas, etc. If I am going to give a gift, it has to be perfect. The thought of giving anything less than perfect where the receiver might not be fully pleased makes me sick to my stomach. It shouldn't be like that I know but it is. In fact, my wife often expects to receive gifts late. It doesn't matter when I start thinking about it, sure enough lightning takes too long to strike. I think I've delivered some pretty great/unique gifts in my days and I have enjoyed it. For our 2nd anniversary (cotton), I bought my wife a 'cotton' candy machine. I couldn't find a local store that carried them so I bought it online and had to rent one from a party store as a stall until the real gift came. I bought her a necklace and earings with our kids' birth stones for Mothers Day that I had to have custom made. But the stress it puts on me, right or wrong, takes some of the fun out of it. I would rather just randomly buy stuff when lightning strikes than have to buy gifts on all these random days that society has deemed important. I think they would mean more if that were the case but trying to skip gifts on V-Day, Mothers Day, and your anniversary is like begging for death at least with 90% of the women I know.
Jun 16, 2011 9:41AM
As a Dad and one of eleven children - just talking and spending time is the gift that keeps on giving - memories and warming feelings - just never enough.
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