Every Christmas, as far back as I can remember, the gifts we get my dad usually include some kind of as-seen-on-TV golf gadget, a piece of cold-weather gear and a polo made from the latest dad fabric du jour, like whatever the hell Gore-Tex is. Only this year did I actually wonder: Are these the things he actually wanted?
Families often turn gift-giving into yearly memes. Some specific, repeated stunt (“Wow, Santa got a fifth of bourbon again?”) becomes as much of a tradition as the highest ornament on the tree. Sentimental as my dad is, I’m sure he’s relieved my four sisters and I are no longer ruining his golf balls by scribbling all over them.
So what do our dads really, actually, honestly want for the holidays? And are those stereotypical “dad gifts” actually appreciated? I reached out to my dad network — and (gulp) the old man himself — to find answers.
Steve Myers (My Dad), Father of Five
My stock answer was “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” but that hasn’t worked out very well, so something a little more tangible. Problem is — and, ironically, other than this year (Swing Caddie SC200, $279 from TopShelf Golf, and don’t worry, I already hit up your mother for it) — I’ve never had a tangible gift it mind. And as I sit here, I can recall very few that I received.
One that I do recall is a shoe-scraper thingy you made for me at age 8 that I never used for the intended purpose but looked at frequently for motivation to get up and go to work. So my focus was not on presents but on presence (see what I did there?).
That’s probably why I prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas, though I love both. At Thanksgiving, you don’t have a bunch of sugar-coated and -filled kids going through the Christmas crazies, and it was just family being family. The highlight of my holidays always has been, and always will be, the family interaction and tossing in a verbal bone from time to time. [This is true: He likes to stay quiet, but he’s deadly with a punchline.]
Mike Keller, Father of One
A weekend away without the kid. Just my wife and I enjoying each other’s company, knowing our daughter is in good hands.
Casey Cramer, Soon-to-Be Father of Two
My brain is mush basically all the time these days, but as far as I can remember, socks. All the socks. I always get socks. Or as a new dad especially, I’ve been showered in coffee mugs displaying my dad power ranking.
What I’d really love? Just a meal, which I can enjoy warm, immediately after it is ready. Get to eat the whole plate, not have the best parts cherry-picked. Maybe even have complete control of the remote control. No interruptions or channel changes for Sesame Street, Winnie the Pooh, Caillou, Doc McStuffins, “Baby Shark,” Dora, Paw Patrol, Curious George, Beat Bugs, StoryBots…
Matt Geiler, Father of Two
While I have certainly received my share of typical “dad” gifts over the years — socks and pens come to mind — I never really mind because I’ve absolutely loved socks since I was a kid. Since I do a lot of drawing, illustrating and writing, I’m always happy to get pens, though I’m fairly particular about what kind I get. If I get a pack of Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens or some Bic Z4s, I am on top of the world.
But what makes any Dadsmas perfect is getting to spend it with your kids. Fortunately, I’ve never spent a Christmas apart from either of my two sons, and that’s pretty amazing.
It would also be amazing to receive a new unitard and a refurbished pumpkin mask. Both of the current editions smell like a junior-high boys’ locker room. Maybe some Brut? Er, no… wait… that would only make it smell more like that.
Bob, Father of Three
Maybe I’m now old, but wanting of “things” has mostly passed. I hope to hear my children giggle, to hear them sing and hopefully to see them smile.
Taneli Armanto, Father of Two
Peace and quiet. But, to be honest, “quiet” doesn’t necessarily mean no sound nor life at all around me. But maybe that’s partly because my children are all grown-ups already; my youngest is 19, soon moving out.
I do enjoy the family happenings when they all gather home to have good food, visit the sauna and play some board games with me. For this Christmas we have rented a cottage for a few days to spend time together. I will even be bringing the games myself. And no new games needed, I’ve got plenty already. Okay, maybe it would be cool if they paid it all ?
Matt, Father of Two
All I really want for Christmas is for my kids to stop asking me for a dog. I told my son three years ago that he can have one when he turns 8, hoping it would all blow over. Now that’s only a year away and he still remembers I promised him one. So I’d rather he just stopped wanting one on his own [so I don’t] have to go back on a promise and break his heart.
Ryan Gunderson, Father of Two
How do I answer without it sounding like a typical dad or the worst dad ever? It’s a very fine line ?. I’ve gotten socks, undershirts, basically a bunch of very practical gifts — things I need on a day-to-day basis. But I guess I don’t buy them, so I can’t complain.
My kids are very young, so it really is just my wife getting this stuff. The pressure’s on her. The best gift would be some gadget-type item like Google Hub Max, or something tech-y. I’m all about turning my house into a smart house, but my wife doesn’t seem to be too into that concept ?.
The worst is when you finally get something you really like but then it doesn’t work right so you go to replace it with the same item, but for some reason it’s not there and you have to settle for something the family wants or kids need, which I realize is a terrible dad response ?.
Charles, Father of Two
I’ve gotten the usual shelf full of picture frames and crafts made with the kids’ handprints. Ornaments that get pulled out of the attic and put on the tree every year. I don’t fish or golf, which seems to narrow down the choices for my wife and kids to get me each year. I always ask for a big box of sleep, but I don’t think science has delivered on how to turn that into a physical gift yet.
Kyle, Father of Three
Ideally, a perfect Xmas, perfect family and lots of gifts. Since we cannot get that, we put the fantasy together for the kids. In the past, my daughter, the crafty and creative little Leo she is, would wrap painted rocks, regift her toys to me and make up her own cards. My eldest son would regift my tools and think that I didn’t know, or replant a random weed he thought was pretty in one of my pots. Practical Taurus. My middle son would spend time with me YouTubing free movies and plan out a four-hour family party, Or make breakfast, sort of. For him it’s all about the experience of things, typical Virgo.
What I really want? To be honest, and I know it’s cliche and overused, but seeing them satisfied and happy when they open the gifts really makes it worth it for me. This time and birthdays make up for the bad times throughout the year. Good grades are a great time as well.