Sheltered Islander: A Holiday Thank You to All the Dads

I thought it would be timely right about now to say thank you to all the dads who were put to work this Christmas season. When men are single, a peel-and-stick wreath on the refrigerator and maybe a new pine tree air freshener in the car is sufficient for holiday decoration.  After marrying, it gets more complex when nicer things come with the new partner and there’s a heavy expectation of joyful participation.

The real dad work starts when the critters arrive. At that point, it chiefly falls upon Dad to make the outside of the holiday home match the vision inside his wife’s head. She’ll only give him a few general clues and there will never be enough money to match her vision.  They survive terrible frustrations. Decorations fall over, things don’t light up right, animation does not perform as promised in the brochure. “You know, Dave, I think the mechanism was supposed to rock the baby Jesus in the manger, not launch it in the air like that. Although it looks great where it landed on my roof, in the passenger’s seat in Santa’s sleigh. Could we leave it there and I’ll give you my baby Jesus?  I’ll even throw in an extra Wise Man.”

Getting the tree, getting the right tree, is a skill every dad must acquire before the children learn to speak and say things like, “Daddy said he’s putting the bad side of the tree in the corner so you’ll never see it, and bust his chops about buying it from that place with the big blonde girl where you told him not to go.”

Dad gets to spend extra quality time with the children doing meaningful activities. “And we met Uncle Phil there, with his kids and new bimbo. And you’re wrong, Mommy, the ice cream at the bowling alley is just as good as the food court. And Susan bought us all cotton candy and we’re late because we went to her house to wash Penny’s hair before you found out about it and yelled at Daddy about the cotton candy. So see, everything’s cool just like Daddy said.”

Just be serious for a moment, here’s a little poem from me to all the dear old dads:

We never think of Fathers’ feet.
They aren’t really feet we’d like to meet.
They’re big and hairy and smelly too,
and if one isn’t bad enough, there’s two.
Two big travelers clomping side by side,
kick objects away, and take life in stride.

Two big feet, often socked,
check the house at night to see what’s locked.
Two socked feet propped on the recliner,
Frame the TV to see what’s finer.
Feet and slippers hit the floor,
to check every strange sound from door to door.
Feet in boots that work all day,
hurt and ache and bring home pay.

Santa’s feet carry a pack,
but they can’t get to everywhere and back,
and so they count on Dad’s feet too,
To leave Santa tracks for the smallest believers plus two.

Upon Fathers’ feet are remarkable men,
And too often we neglect to stop and tell them.
They strive and try to endure all they can,
And through it all become a better man.

But of all the pains these feet have known,
There is one tiny evil that stands alone.
So tiny and sweet it’s hard to believe,
the level of pain that it can achieve.

There is no father short or tall,
who has not with bare feet gone down a dark hall,
and suddenly screamed profanities he never thought he knew,
but learned with a single step upon a Barbie’s shoe.

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