Happy Birthday to my daddy, who would have been 73 (73!!) today! I wish he were here so I could shower him with presents and we could commiserate over having birthdays so close to Christmas. I really just wish he were here.
I couldn’t let the occasion go unnoticed, so today’s Friday Five Gift Guide is a collection of gifts that would be perfect for him. Or for any man in your life who has ever made full meals out of cheese and crackers and full pints of ice cream, has the best beard, can quote Kevin Kline movies at the drop of a hat, loves literature and classical music, and maintains imaginary affairs with French, redheaded burlesque dancers named Trixie LaTharge. That last one might have been just my dad, but hey. He is my favorite guy in the whole universe, you’ll have to forgive me wanting to show him off:
Here I am at age 2-3, rocking bangs and a turtleneck, trying to grab the flash from my dad’s camera while he is just trying to take a decent picture of us.
Here we are, ages 6 and 54 respectively. I have bangs. And I’m wearing a Bambi shirt. But do you see the card I’ve drawn for him? Clearly I did not inherit his talent for drawing.
Also in that picture I’m giving him a present for what I’m assuming is Father’s Day? Given that I’m in just a t-shirt I’m going to assume it isn’t winter. In the spirit on his birthday and the holidays, and to continue the Friday Five Gift Guides, here are 5 gifts that were inspired by my dad:
1. Complete ‘Law & Order’ Collection / 2. Lambswool Sweater / 3. Sea Monkeys (!) / 4. Cheese of the Month / 5. Paris Moleskine sketchbook
My dad’s favorite show of all time was Law & Order. We used to (try to) watch a new episode of SVU every Friday night, and it was always a contest to see who could stay up for it. Inevitably, we were both passed out 5 minutes in, me from clamping my eyes shut at all the scary parts enough times, and my dad just from being exhausted from a long week at work. My dad always joked if he ever suffered from insomnia, all he would have to do is put on an old episode of Law & Order and wait for the “dun dun” gavel sound that opens every show. It was a sure fire way to knock him out. At $450 for the all 20 seasons, it isn’t exactly the cheapest gift in the world, but it is definitely one I know he would have loved.
I feel like every holiday necessitated the purchase of yet another wool sweater for him, but this one, from J Crew, just seemed too perfect to pass up. It’s gray (one of his favorite colors) and looks so comfy and warm. I The collar would have been totally up his alley, too. Today I’m wearing one of his sweaters, a dark green cable-knit number with wooden buttons that is probably not entirely work appropriate, but I couldn’t not wear it today. I’m sure it’s my imagination, but it still faintly smells likes him, and it’s wonderful.
My dad was never what you would call an “animal” person (to put it mildly) but we did have several pet water frogs for a few years. They were very, very cute and very, very tiny. My dad really bonded with one of them, Otis, and even upgraded his tank and bought him special food and could be found having conversations with him if you snuck up on him. But since there have been a bunch of salmonella outbreaks linked to water frogs recently, I figured the next best non-pet with the least amount of responsibility would be Sea Monkeys. Did any of you have these growing up? I had a couple and they were awesome. I figure this would be the type of pet my dad would appreciate: the kind where the eggs come dehydrated in a packet and then hatch in the water and become teeny tiny brine shrimp. Knowing him, though, he would end up attached to them and try to keep them alive forever.
I mentioned above that one of my dad’s favorite meals was a block of stinky cheese and a box of crackers. Maybe some spicy mustard and jam. No one loved stinky cheese more than my dad. Murray’s Cheese Shop, in New York, has a huge assortment of cheese (stinky and non-stinky), and you can even buy a 4, 6, or 12 month “Cheese of the Month” gift basket for any occasion. Every month, the recipient gets a 1/2lb of cheese (or meat, or a pairing if you pick that basket!) delivered right to their door. Can you think of anything more magical? Or delicious?
My dad never went anywhere without a sketchbook or two for moments of inspiration (or an emergency preparedness kit that included first aid supplies and a flashlight that worked 1000m below sea-level and a wallet-sized pen that could write in outer space, all of which fit in a small little pouch), and loved carrying a Moleskine datebook to keep his appointments and notes in. Moleskine has a line of city notebooks that include transit maps, neighborhood maps, and plenty of pages for sketching or documenting your trip. His heart belonged to Paris (just like my own) so this would have been a perfect stocking stuffer for him.
Happy, happy, happy birthday, Daddy. I miss you so much.
Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos. This weekend includes picking up and decorating Fitz’s very first Christmas tree. Do you think he’ll try to pee on it?
And please consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society this holiday season!