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Danville Express

Column - June 19, 2009

Diablo Views: Do husbands count as fathers on Father's Day?

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Sunday is Father's Day, sending sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters and even some wives shopping. I won't be shopping this year. My father passed away in 2000, and my husband is one of those who says to me on Mother's Day, "You aren't my mother. I don't need to buy you anything." So of course I can use this same logic on Father's Day and how could he complain?

Except. I like to buy presents and like to buy him things. Luckily his birthday is also in June so I can direct my present-buying instincts toward this date. This year I found the perfect gift. His birthday has passed so I won't ruin the surprise by telling you.

I bought him a little handheld vacuum cleaner, one of the series put out by Dirt Devil. Lest you think this gift was not very exciting, I must point out that a few years ago he purchased a dust buster. Since he works out of our home and I work long hours gathering news in Danville, he does his share of the housework. OK, maybe he does more than his share, if you count cooking. Anyway the dust buster came in handy for quick cleanups. When it broke a few months ago, he missed it.

This time I bought a hand vac that has a cord, guessing that perhaps the dust buster's demise could have had something to do with the recharging hootchie. Good choice, he agreed. So much more powerful. And so much louder - just ask the cat, if you can catch him.

I didn't buy any ol' hand vac, mind you. I actually shopped around for the best. The first place I went only had red and my husband is not a red kind of guy so I kept looking until I found an evil empire black. It has attachments to get into corners and a flippy thing on the end to zero in on cookie crumbs.

My birthday is at the end of June so it will be interesting to see if my husband follows my lead in being over-the-top practical. If he gives me an iron I'll know he doesn't pay attention - I iron about twice a year. (Note: Chocolate covered cherries are a great fallback position.)

One difference between my husband and me regarding presents is that I keep in mind the entire year that there will be several gift-giving occasions. If I perceive that he would like something or see that he needs something I store this information in my brain (or my calendar) to trot it out at Christmastime or birthday time or Valentine's Day time, etc. He, on the other hand, generally waits until an occasion is upon us, then he begins to search his mind in alarm: What does she want? What does she need?

OK, I admit this is unfair. Many times he has given me generous and thoughtful presents that required planning and caught me completely by surprise. But he did used to do this last minute brainstorming for his own father on Father's Day.

I don't know what the fuss is over dads' presents. They are usually grateful for anything. I still remember going shopping in high school with my best friend who was looking for a birthday present for her father; she bought him a Glenn Yarbrough album. Her dad did plumbing work on construction sites and came home each night to read the evening newspaper and enjoy a glass of wine in a water glass. He was a wonderful man but I'm not so sure he ever listened to folk music. But I seem to recall him receiving the album with a twinkle in his eye and a hearty thank you and hug for his 16-year-old daughter, who never failed to delight him.

Growing up, my sister always bested me in the present department. She was five years older and more in tune with my parents' interests. Decades later, I still remember being jealous of my father's complete delight when she surprised him with the book, "Comstock Commotion: The Story of the Territorial Enterprise and Virginia City News" by Lucius Beebe, which was just out. Our father was a huge Nevada enthusiast and a newspaper man. The Territorial Enterprise, one of the first newspapers in the West, was one of many that came to our home. Even then I knew that it was the perfect gift for him although I hadn't heard of the book until she surprised him with it.

Isn't it great when you know just what to give and the price is right and you're able to find it? Better yet is when it's a surprise. I think my husband expected the hand vac although he may have expected something else in addition - so the gift turned out to be a surprise after all.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.

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