In the week leading up to Father’s Day 2015, I heard on the radio a top-10 list of “What Gifts Dad’s Want for Father’s Day.” The list centered on the “Four T’s of Daddy Gifts”: Tech, Toys, Tools, and Time. But the number one gift on the list made me rethink Father’s Day and what it means to me.

Before hearing this list, I had thought about what gift(s) I would like to get. And to be honest, they were rather selfish ideas that centered on those Four Ts. I wanted some tangible piece of technology, tool, or toy and I wanted to sleep in and take a nap. All about me.

The most wanted gift on this list, however, was far from selfish. The gift these dad’s wanted for Father’s Day was time with their family. Talk about a kick to the gut. Hearing that showed me how far off my thinking of Father’s Day had become.

Rather than using Father’s Day as an escape, I used the day to re-evaluate and re-emphasize my job as a father and what it means to be a father. Rather than using the day to take a break from my kids and wife, I wanted to be there for them as much as I could.

My wife did make me breakfast and let me choose where we went for dinner, and my kids did give me a cool alarm clock that you could write a message on. So there was some special treatment that was much appreciated.

However, shortly after breakfast, we had to get going as my kids had their end-of-the-year dance recital. So much for sleeping in and relaxing, right? In order to help out the studio directors and to see my kids more, I volunteered to help supervise the dressing room (read: backstage holding room for small kids).

I also stepped WAY outside of my comfort zone!BenDancing

As a surprise to the kids (or as much of a surprise as possible), the directors of the dance studio put together a dance for the dads to perform during this Father’s Day recital. I was excited to be a part of this dance. And like I said, I was WAY outside of my comfort zone. For example, in the middle of the performance there were some gaps in our choreography that were long enough and awkward enough that I had the time for a complete mental conversation. “Hmm, I’m not doing anything. Should I be? What did I forget? None of the other guys are dancing right now, so I must be okay. They really should have put more choreography here. But we only had one, maybe two rehearsals to learn this dance, so they really couldn’t add more. Oh well, time to dance again.” This lasted all of 10-15 seconds, but with the lights and the crowd, it felt like FOREVER.

The look of excitement and joy on my kids’ faces at the end brought me more happiness than any of the other “stuff” I thought I wanted. On a day that is supposed to be all about me, the dad, I chose to put my focus back on my kids.

I understand why there are holidays like Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. They are important for the kids to reflect on what our parents have done for us and to honor all of the hard work they did to raise us. As our kids get older they grow up, go off to school, get jobs and start their own families. Somewhere along the line the idea was introduced that if you honor your parents you’ll buy them a diamond tennis bracelet or a 60” UHDTV for Mother’s or Father’s Day. But do these holidays need to be about buying dad some new fangled device or about getting mom a new piece of expensive jewelry? I don’t think so.

I decided this year to make my Father’s Day about being a better dad and putting the focus on those who call me dad. They’re my greatest Father’s Day gift ever, and no matter what I may say, their love and happiness is the only gift I need.

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