I am sitting down to write because I need a good excuse to sit down. Georgia's humid heat has descended full force, and these long summer days at home with my boys are wearing me out. It's been the kind of day where one really appreciates a cool place to rest.
If you noticed the absence of my column last week, please accept my apology for not meeting my deadline. I had a rough draft for Father's Day, but a family emergency preempted my writing toward the end of the week.
I hope everyone had a nice Father's Day and got what they wanted. My husband wasn't sure what he wanted but realized how much his boys love him when I relayed what happened when I asked them for gift suggestions.
"Let's get Dad a big screen TV!" said Zachary.
"No, let's get him an iPod. Daddy really wants an iPod!" said Eli.
"Nah. I think Dad wants a new Xbox game," countered Zachary.
Nice try, son. I know who really wants that Xbox game, and it's not Dad. It reminds me of the time I bought my mother a book of John Travolta photographs for her birthday. Oh, the crush I had on John Travolta when I was ten.
We drove past a car dealership, and the value of dad's gift increased.
"I know! We can get Dad a new car! Mom, you should totally trade in your minivan for a new BMW. Dad needs a BMW."
I laughed. "How about we keep it to around $10?"
Dead silence filled the car. The Queen Party Pooper had spoken.
My husband is a fabulous daddy, worth everything our sons wanted to give him, and a thousand kingdoms more. But unfortunately we're at a place where our gift budget is almost nil, where eating out is a rare treat, and we find ourselves barking at the kids with statements we heard while growing up during the 1970s' inflation crunch. Things like, "How many times do I have to tell you to turn off the light when you leave the room?" and "What, are we trying to air-condition the whole neighborhood? Shut the door!"
I never know whether to cringe or laugh when moments like that prove that I've turned into my parents. But one thing they taught me is the importance of sticking to a budget and to live without relying on credit cards. It's tough sometimes, but frugality is a gift I'm trying to pass along to my children.
So my poor husband wasn't rewarded with electronics or automobiles this Father's Day. He did, however, get some of his favorite dark chocolates and a pound of Indian Monsooned Malabar, the most amazing coffee in the world, hand-roasted by a friend of ours. I think he was happy with what he got. I know I'm happy every morning that he brews a cup of coffee for me. He doesn't have to share his gift, but he does. He's just that kind of guy.
I still remember one time he yelled at me to stop the car as I was driving us somewhere. We hadn't known each other long, and I was afraid that perhaps he was sick or something. But he had just spotted something he knew I'd like. He hopped out of the car to pick some flowers that were growing beside the road. We were broke college students, and he had no money to buy flowers for me. But what he did was a thousand times more romantic.
And I've always wanted to repay that. But I don't think he'd appreciate wildflowers as much as I, and unfortunately there aren't fields of electronic gadgets ripe for the plucking. One day, though, I will surprise him with something big.
Until then, I'm thankful that he recognizes the priceless things in life. Gifts are nice, but not required, when love, hugs and respect are the greatest currencies known to man. And my beloved has these in triplicate, from the three of us lucky enough to share this life with him.
Kari Apted may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.