Weekly Column: Big Birthday Equals Big Wishes

©Stephenie Freeman

In between checking my kids for the swine flu and reading the reports about the mom who was arrested for making her kids walk home, I’ve been racking my brain for ideas. It’s my father’s birthday today and I don’t have a single present to give him.

This birthday is kind of a big one, the Big 6-0, so I really wanted to try and find something unique and special. Big birthdays should be celebrated in big ways. This includes big birthday presents. And since we live 1,300 miles away, I wanted to buy him a present that said, “Sorry we can’t be there in person to wish you a happy birthday, but maybe this big, oversized, expensive present will suffice.”

Gift giving is just hard. I tend to put way too much pressure on myself to buy the perfect present. The whole concept of “it’s the thought that counts” just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t want the thought to be the only thing that counts. I want the fact that I racked my brain and spent weeks coming up with the perfect present to count for something too.

But what do you get for the 60-year-old dad who has everything? And I’m not just saying that he has everything to get myself out of having to find him a great present. He really doesn’t need a single thing.

Which only leaves me with presents that fit into the category of “I can’t think of anything else so here’s a present that I know you can’t reject” like the kid’s artwork and some family photos I’ve been meaning to send for the last several months.

I of course had the kids make the mandatory homemade birthday cards, covered with stickers and love and lots of bad handwriting. As I sat there peeling off stickers that had somehow made their way onto the dog, I started thinking of all of these fantastic present ideas. Presents that my dad would never see coming. Presents that would blow him out of the water. Presents that I could never actually buy for him, even on my best day, due to bank account issues and just plain old common sense.

So instead, here it is Dad. Your birthday present. Instead of taking out ad space to put in a picture of you as a baby with the words “Guess Who’s turning 60?” I’m giving you some of this week’s column space to write you a list of everything that I wish that I could give you for your birthday:

  • Travel the country in an RV—I know that you’ve always wanted to travel in an RV. Your friends reading this might be shocked because on the outside you look like a Ritz Carlton kind of a guy, but I know how much you’ve always wanted to do this. Just don’t ask me to go with you. I might look like a Best Western kind of a gal on the outside, but I’m really a Ritz Carlton girl on the inside.
  • Driving the Indy 500 Pace Car—I remember all of the great stories from your Indy trips you’re your best friends years ago. I’d get you racing lessons too, but I think you’ve had enough broken legs for one lifetime.
  • A round with Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer or better yet, all three—You’d be a fine addition to this threesome, but I have a feeling that you wouldn’t have as much fun with them as you do at the LCC with Danny and Jimmy.
  • A trip around the world—If Great Uncle Fred could do it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Unlike the RV trip, there’s a stipulation that goes along with this gift: you have to take me with you. I figure if we start to get on each other’s nerves, I can always just leave you behind in Tahiti.

The list could go on and on, but you know better than I do Dad that ink and space cost money in the newspaper business, so I’ll simply close with this:

Happy Birthday, Dad. You don’t look a day over 59.

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