When I first volunteered to write a post about Father’s Day, I breathed a sigh of relief, because this would be easy! Then, as the deadline came and went, I panicked, because I had nothing! So, like any other great writer of my generation, I turned to Google and searched Father’s Day 2018, hoping for some inspiration. The first article that popped up was NY Mag’s “31 Best Cheap Father’s Day Gifts under $50.” My initial thought was “$50? Only if I’m going in with my brother!”
The article and the response it provoked is perfect, because I have no doubt in my mind that my frugality was inherited directly from my dad. My mom would accuse us both of merely being cheap, but that is a shared source of pride for us.
My dad happens to be a financial advisor, but he didn’t go into finance until I was in high school, and well before then, he was teaching and demonstrating an approach to money that has served me well. Lessons such as living within your means, not carrying credit card debt, and saving/investing whenever possible (don’t you dare leave that company 401k match on the table!).
In fact, I’m so grateful to have learned so much about finance before I was actually an adult, that I’ve tried to start teaching my own kids lessons on money, often with mixed results. Their piggy banks are filled with coins, and they still have no concept of what a debit card is/does, but you can bet that when they open a birthday card with cash or check inside, they hand it over without so much as a whine, because they know I’m putting it straight into their college savings account as soon as I can make the deposit and there’s no use arguing about it.
My dad also instilled in me a deep sense of giving back and serving others. He has won more community-service awards than I can remember, including a lifetime achievement award, and he just turned 60! He doesn’t brag or even like the recognition, but somehow my brother and I knew that when there was a community-service project at our high school, we’d better sign up for it, and if our church was hosting a local work day, we were going regardless of our weekend plans.
I may not have appreciated those “opportunities” in high school, but in college I found myself signing up for optional community service hours through my sorority, and as an adult, I actively seek out causes that are important to me and ways to get involved. Now that my oldest is nearing the age where he would understand volunteering (and actually be helpful!), we hope to start volunteering more as a family, because that is another legacy I hope to pass on.
And I would be remiss if I failed to mention another strong character trait that I picked up from my dad — watching reruns. My dad’s sitcoms of choice are The Andy Griffith Show, M*A*S*H, and Seinfeld. You can bet that if any of those shows pop up on the Dish channel guide, he will bypass whatever else is on to watch them. In fact, I just recently pointed out to him how much of a trendsetter he was, because he was binging tv shows well before that was a thing! Much to my husband’s dismay, I spend a good portion of our Netflix subscription watching episodes of Parks and Recreation and The Office because “I just don’t have time” to start anything new.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad, and to all those dads who are just trying to make sure they raise good people. We may not always give you the credit you deserve, but maybe we would if you hadn’t taught us so much humility.