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Posted: June 13, 2013 8:00 a.m.

Dear ol' Dad

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My dad has always been notoriously difficult to shop for. He has that whole “There’s nothing I want” thing going on, which is both infuriating and confusing for someone like me, who keeps an ongoing Amazon wish list – just in case.

Over the years, he has received some of the ugliest ties known to man, an in-home putting green thingy that never left the box, tons of magazine subscriptions and tools. The end result is that at 61 years old, I have tried everything I can think of and, while he thanks me, he really could not care less. It doesn’t help matters that his birthday is a week before Father’s Day either. Way to make it hard, Pops!

But I know I’m not alone in this issue. I think it’s a dude thing to say you don’t want anything and usually mean it. So I have an idea (a great one, since it’s the only kind I have): I will take the Top 5 gifts the Internet says you should buy for your dad and then give you a better suggestion along those Internet guidelines. He might not like it, but at least it’s not another tie.

1. Fitbit One Wireless Activity + Sleep Tracker ($90) – This apparently clocks your steps during the day and calculates calories burned, even while sleeping. Several websites suggest that with this doodad, you can hook it to whatever mobile device you like and see how many calories you burn. Seriously? You can get a pedometer at Target for $5. Know what your dad would like better? Some cinnamon rolls. I’m not kidding. If you got me this, I would think you were calling me fat and be mad at you. I might say thank you (probably not), but it would be while I was smacking you in my head. And if your dad is anything like mine, he can barely check email and never remembers to turn his cellphone on. But he always remembers how tasty those cinnamon rolls are. Bake them for him and you can be his favorite.

2. Of-The-Month Clubs ($50 and up) – You can get these things for everything from steaks and beer to pizza and PB&J (not kidding). And while the idea of it sounds fun, it never really is. How much PB&J can you really eat? How much beer can you drink? You want to give him a bunch of fun beers? Go to Publix and get one of their make-your-own six-packs and cook him a steak. Or get him a subscription to something he doesn’t have to cook, like a magazine. I know it sounds cheesy, but everyone likes magazines about something. Music, cars, woodworking, scantily-clad ladies – you can find whatever you’re looking for and it’s cheaper and less likely to rot in the heat if he’s not home to accept the package right away. Think about Southern summers. Sending raw meat in the mail probably isn’t the best idea. Just saying.

3. Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones (about $200) – Are you kidding me? I guess all these list-makers have much cooler dads than mine, because he wouldn’t know Dr. Dre from Dr. Scholl’s. I think maybe the thought behind it is that they reduce noise and let him listen to the soothing sounds of Stevie Nicks uninterrupted – who knows. If you think he needs headphones, go for it. But you could probably do better with a CD or a DVD of some live 70s performance of The Eagles or Fleetwood Mac.

4. Make-your-own-beer kit ($45 and up) – My dad isn’t a huge drinker, so this kit wouldn’t be a great present for him. It would go the way of the ugly ties and the putting green for the bedroom. Which means it would be shoved into some closet to be unearthed in a few years and sold at a yard sale. However, this isn’t an awful idea if your Pops is a beer drinker. My dad is fond of coffee and went on a tirade about how only coffee made in percolators was good, and Starbucks was “sissy coffee” – which I think means too weak. I totally won the best daughter prize over my sister when I got him a percolator one year. However, now he’s into K-Cups, so I’m sure the much-sought percolator is destined for a yard sale one day soon.

5. Organic skin care (from $30 up) – I don’t understand this one. How many dudes give a French about skin care, organic or otherwise? I think my dad washes his hair with Irish Spring soap to be completely honest. My one attempt to get him some Bath and Body Works manly grooming things in high school ended with him washing our Cocker Spaniel Gus with the body wash that was supposed to smell like a walk in the woods or an oak barrel, something like that. At least the dog smelled good. If you want your dad to smell like an oak barrel, get him a good bottle of whiskey. You can get me one too if you want. I like fire whiskey.

Look, as hokey as this will sound, you could probably just visit and have dinner and then leave him alone and he’d be happy. I think my dad is pleased as punch if he gets one visit that involves me, my mom and my sister where no one screams at one another or cries for some reason. And although my ideas sometimes sound cavalier, don’t be fooled. My dad is battling brain, lung and kidney cancer right now, which means I’m totally making him cinnamon rolls every weekend if that’s what he wants. So whatever you do for dear old dad this year, just make sure you take some time with him. You never know how many more Father’s Days you have left.

 

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