With no hesitation, my son responded, "The ability to fly.” Good call. I like the creativity. Not sure I can pull that off, but nice request, son.
This discussion about gifts inspired a more philosophical question from my son. "Daddy, is it better to receive than to give?"
"No son, you have that backward. It is better to give than to receive," I replied.
He looked confused. You could see the gears turning while he tried to digest my words. After a thoughtful delay, he responded hopefully, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I am pretty sure."
Another thoughtful delay, "But it sure is nice to receive."
"Yes, yes it is. But it can be even more fun to give a gift to someone else and make them happy," I responded.
One last thoughtful delay. "I'm not sure you've got that right, Daddy," he said.
Admittedly, that is tough to argue. It sure is nice to receive a thoughtful gift. And at 6 years of age, it is really difficult to appreciate the subtle joy of giving, especially when receiving is so much fun.
Just as difficult at his age is to fully appreciate a necessary gift, but not fun gifts. For example, a pair of dress pants and a matching shirt are hard for a 6-year-old boy to celebrate on Christmas morning, especially if the shirt doesn’t have a superhero flying into action on the front. He comes by it honest, as a child. I had a reputation for not fully appreciating useful gifts. Many Christmas mornings of my youth you could hear a disappointed cry, “More clothes? Arrgghh!” But really, who wraps tube socks? I guess my son is giving me generational payback ... you are welcome, Mom.
While it is a difficult concept to grasp, it is not lost on my son. In fact, he takes great joy in telling the family jokes. At 6, he has not yet mastered the art of comedy, but he tries awfully hard.
“Daddy, how does a chicken stay warm?”
“I don’t know son, how?”
“Their feathers! Get it?”
Confused, I say, “Get what?”
Giving a full belly laugh, he screams, “Feathers! Get it? HA! HA!”
No, I don’t get it at all. But I smile. I smile big watching my son crack himself up.
Moments like this, seeing family truly happy brings me great joy. In fact, it wasn’t until I was married and had kids that I fully appreciated these moments of joy. While it is overstated and all too common, it is just as true, the greatest gift a father can receive is a smile and a hug from his family. I believe that. I live that. But I clearly don’t “get it.” And that is all right.
Merry Christmas! I hope you have a joyful holiday season with your family.
(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful wife, a son, two daughters, the family dogs — Tucker and Boomer — and five chickens. Matt and his family want to wish all Cleveland Daily Banner readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Matt’s column appears every other Wednesday in the Banner.)