Posted by: deadmousediaries | June 20, 2010

Celebrating Father’s Day: Gifts from Dad – reflections from Mitchell Kyd

Here I am on the cusp of Father’s Day again and I want desperately to get it right. It is, after all, my 56th opportunity. At some point, I think every kid struggles with what to do for Dad to honor him on the third Sunday in June. My situation is complicated mostly by the fact that my dad is a zen master at gift-giving and I want to be a worthy student.

This is a guy who has always been one step ahead of knowing what a daughter might be wanting next. He is the dad who knew it was time for a real Brownie camera and for my own stereo complete with headphones (for my rockin’ Three Dog Night Lps.).He was the magic behind the sudden appearance of a brand new blue and silver bike that rolled up to our front door on my birthday. I found it waiting after the door bell rang and discovered later he had hightailed it around the side of the garage to watch me open the door. He snuck away one evening after dinner to call our house so I would hear the phone ringing – in my bedroom. That was new and totally unexpected for a rural kid who was growing up middle class in the Sixties.

The gifts themselves have always been story-worthy but it is the significance behind them that has elevated him to master status. He has always had an understated way of recognizing milestones in my life. While other dads tried to deny their daughters were growing up – or worse yet, were oblivious to the whole hormone-driven process – my dad affirmed his approval by celebrating my journeys with his special gifts.

In my tom-boy days, I was the only girl I knew who had her own fiberglass bow and handmade quiver. My dad taught me exactly how to knock the arrow so I could sending it flying over The Big Tree in the field behind our house. I’m quite sure that the little Craftsman claw hammer in my fix-it drawer has celebrated it’s 50th birthday by now but it pounds and pulls as well today as it did the day he gave it to me (“Never buy junk.” Dad-ism # 37)

When I was in my rock-hound phase, he brought me a magnifying glass and would gobble up wonderful bits of stone he had upturned during his construction work during the day. I still have some fabulous quartz crystals that caught his eye and lassoed my imagination. When I started keeping a chart on my door about the wild birds I had spotted, he bought me my own set of field glasses and would turn his attention to finding a brilliant feather from a cardinal, jay or a goldfinch to add to my collection. When I turned 12, I found my first hunting license hiding under my dinner plate, a tradition he carried forward from his own boyhood memories.

During my “office phase” when I was all about collecting books, writing self-imposed reports and organizing my version of VIP papers, he built me a bookcase and a corner desk for my bedroom. I watched it rise from the lumber in our basement. The finishing touch was a custom-cut sheet of heavy plastic for the desktop (just like that glass-top beauty in the furniture store) under which I could display my most important treasures, photos and feathers alike. One Friday night when I had been too sick to go to school, he came home with two brand new three-ring binders and two packs of tab dividers. That was pretty heady, grown-up stuff back then and in the days before the supermarts, it also meant he had made an inconvenient special stop at the only office supply store within 30 miles.

Of course he had a huge part in buying my first car, a hot little Malibu coupe with a 350 to rev, bucket seats, floor shift and optional eight-track player (so I could cruise with Alice Cooper ). When I took a powder puff mechanics course, my Christmas gifts included a case of engine oil and a set of adjustable wrenches. (“Keep an eye on those gauges.” Dad-ism #5.)

I will always remember the first time he asked me if I’d like a glass of wine when we were dining out; my mother was not happy. My dad is so cool; he also bought me my first new refrigerator and my first air conditioner. For our first holiday in our new house, he bought me Christmas dishes. Along the way, he has presented me, my husband and my kids with countless handmade gifts and has now built two cradles for my kids to stow away for their own babies.

Do you see my Father’s Day dilemma?

I’ve had a few hits and a lot of misses with my gift epiphanies as the years go by. Gift certificate to a nice, new restaurant? Bad idea. (“Don’t spend that kind of money; you know your mother and I will never eat that much.” Dad-ism # 42). Newspaper subscription? Okay if it comes to the post office but not home delivery where it lands in the alfalfa at the end of a very long driveway. Magazine subscription is a definite “maybe” but when I come up with a keeper, he always renews before I have the chance to score a two-year hit.

Things that have gone better have included portable saw horses, a custom imprinting tool that lets him personalize all of his woodwork, and a commissioned painting of the barn. Kookaburra licorice plays well, too, because it’s hard to find and is an acceptable extravagance.

Maybe the biggest hit with a renewable source of delight has been a series of scrapbooks, volumes one through seven, starring the two grandchildren.

My dad really didn’t have much choice about giving me his blue eyes but he made it his intention to give me validation. I’m not sure where I can buy a pound of that for him so close to Sunday’s celebration but I will offer up this story. It’s the closest I can do to nailing up a framed photo of my favorite father memories.

Copyright 2010. Mitchell Kyd. All rights reserved.


  1. gotta run, can’t finish reading this until tonight, and I’ll be thinking about it all day!

    “dad-ism #37.” Priceless way of defining your dad.

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