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A Father's Journal / What dads & grads really want

Published 8:23 am, Tuesday, June 11, 2013
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Only a few shopping days are left before Father's Day.

I just read that offspring spend more than 30 percent more on Mother's Day than Father's Day. The national advertisers in June don't even single out dad. All the ads say, "Buy crap for dads and grads."

Really?

For all dad does he doesn't get his own moment in the sun? He has to share it just because "dad" rhymes with "grad?" College graduation is well before Father's Day, and with all the snow days/hurricane days/roof-problem days/locust days/ boils days, Fairfield high school graduations are still a ways off. Mother's Day is during the formal-dance season, but you never hear about spending 30 percent more on "moms and proms."

Every year, I write a list of what not to get dad for Father's Day. I have gleaned this list from actual gifts I have received over the years, not just from my children. Previous lists of things I got -- and no dad should ever get -- included neon clothing, gargoyle paperweights and a book on witchcraft.

This year I will keep my list simple for both dads and grads. I will devote the rest of the column to advice I received around the time I was a grad, from my father, and my grandfather.

Here are the secrets to what dad and grads want. Dad wants you to not spend your money and to save it. Don't buy him anything. The the graduate just wants your money. That's it. The grad doesn't want a sweater, it's June.

Dad doesn't want a thing except for a thank you. Buy your dad a card and write in this verbatim: "Thanks for busting your hump day in and day out for us all these years, Dad. We learned a lot from you. We are going to save our money and not buy you a present. But thanks for giving me life and taking me to get stitches. I love you."

Long ago when I was a recent grad, my dad -- who busted his hump for us -- gave me some advice. He was driving me to the airport. I was leaving home. He said, "Nothing in life is as good as it seems, and nothing is as bad as it seems." Best advice I ever got. In moments of euphoria there is always something to hold you back a little. And even when things are bad, there is still a little hope if you look for it.

With the possible exception of the lobster rolls at Lobster Landing in Clinton, nothing is as good as it appears. And that simple line about the bad has helped me when I repeat it over and over deal with some of life's unpleasantries

The other piece of I advice I'll share comes from my grandfather, Michael Lavelle, who gave it to my mom, who gave it to me. When my mother was a young grad, she would want to go out with her friends, perhaps indulging in adult beverages. My grandfather was a single parent; my grandmother had died a few years earlier. He took my mother aside and said, "When you're going out, or generally in life, know your capacity and know your companions -- if one fails you the other won't"

I have been lucky enough to find a great group of companions. In my early years we did not always know our capacity, but I always knew my companions -- Steve, Mick, Bill, Rob, BJ, and my brothers. I stopped drinking years ago. But I have exceeded my capacity in other areas, and it is comforting to have companions that you know you can count on.

So don't feel bad that you're spending 30 percent less on dad. He doesn't mind. Just thank him in the most sincere way you can and remember the words of a couple of dads who busted their humps. Nothing is as bad as it seems. Nothing is as good as it seems, and for God's sake, know you capacity and your companions.

Thomas Lawlor is a Southport writer.