Day 36: Birthday gifts

I cannot remember a single birthday gift that I gave my dad. I know I gave him gifts, and I didn’t give him ties because he didn’t have that kind of job – he was a plumber.

I know there were some years when I didn’t give him anything, because he insisted he didn’t need anything. Same with Mom.

If Dad was still alive, he would have turned 95 today. It’s delightful to imagine that, and I know I would’ve had a difficult time figuring out a birthday gift for him.

I chose a bright and lovely 1995 penny to say Happy Birthday Dad.

In terms of material goods, he was a very simple man. About the only luxury item I ever saw him really relish was a set of custom-made golf clubs that he splurged on when he won the lottery in 1976.

My parents grew up during the Great Depression, and so they knew what it was like to go without.  They told stories about getting one orange as a Christmas present. One year dad’s whole family, all eight children, got a single present: a sled.

As adults, it was luxury enough for them to live in a simple house with no mortgage, have plenty of food to eat, wear clothes that weren’t threadbare hand-me-downs, drive a dependable car.

When they said, “I don’t need anything,” they really meant it.

This is one of the biggest gifts that they gave me: the ability to appreciate all that I have, and not lust after expensive goods.

Seeing the debt that so many Americans have, I estimate that the value of this gift from my parents is several hundred thousand dollars.

They knew that I was extremely grateful for this gift. And I hope that seeing my lifestyle echo their own was a gift for them in return.