Father’s Day is just around the corner. It is a time that does not quite get the same press that Mother’s Day gets, but it is a special day anyway, and I for one am looking forward to it! This year we do not have any really special plans that I know of (I’m always suspicious of surprises on days like this!), but it will be a special day anyway. Every summer we have lived in the state of Florida, our oldest granddaughter has come to spend an extended length of time with us. Her being here at this time makes it a very special holiday. Every year she comes we have attempted to make her visit special by involving ourselves in a variety of different activities which in these years have now become “traditions” – enjoyable times together that she loves to repeat each year with us – or at least, she tolerates her grandparents thinking she loves them!
Since she arrived, just under two weeks ago, she and her Grandma have already learned how to play the ukulele. Well, her Grandma began lessons a couple of months ago, but since she arrived from Ohio, we have purchased one for her and they have joined a ukulele club that meets once a week, and together they spend a significant amount of time in daily practicing. Our granddaughter has already recorded (on amateur video) one song and it seems like Don Ho has moved into our home – in duplicate!
One tradition which we have enjoyed every year is that Grandpa and Granddaughter take a Sunday afternoon golf cart ride together. It is a very special golf cart ride in that we have a specific goal in mind: to visit every Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant within the area that is reachable by golf cart. At current count, that number is five! One feature that this year’s golf cart excursions introduce is the addition of a granddaughter who is now coming of age to legally drive the golf cart here. And that may indeed add some gray hairs to Grandpa’s appearance – if not remove them altogether!
Another tradition that we have greatly enjoyed is that of swimming. My bride and I have enjoyed taking our granddaughter to the pool with a couple of our friends, one of whom is a triathlete swimmer in the Senior Games here, and the pool has become a tremendous way to spend a couple of hours most afternoons. It is interesting that we comment about how enjoyable it is to swim when our granddaughter is here, and then we wonder why we do not swim more often when she is not here. But we don’t. This Father’s Day will probably include some swimming as well.
One further tradition that we have introduced when our granddaughter visits is the avid devotion to playing games. Every night, no matter how late, we will play any number of a variety of games, from card games to board games, from Rummy to Scrabble, to almost any type of game that you can imagine other than video games. We often invite some of our (“old”) friends to join us, but we play a lot of games while she is here.
Gordon MacDonald talks about his relationship with his own father and how strained it was, but he then points to one or two instances where they connected in a profound sort of way. He said that one day his father came to his school, talked with his teacher and took him out of class for the day. They then got into the car and drove to the ballpark to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play ball. It was an afternoon he never forgot, especially when his dad caught a foul ball and then presented the ball to him as a souvenir of the day. MacDonald then proclaimed that that day was just a little bit of heaven for him.
Some of my thoughts this Father’s Day become very personal in that I have watched our children grow into adulthood and as a result demonstrate how well we have done in the parenting task that was given to us. I wonder how many days they will reflect upon and call them “just a little bit of heaven”.
Spending this Father’s Day with our oldest grandchild (one of six!) is wonderful. It is another way to relive the Father’s Days in the past, but it is also a great time of encouragement for the future. Did I mention one other “tradition” that my granddaughter initiated with me? Every night she is here, we sit on the couch and have a (brief) devotional time together. We always end our nights with prayer!
The Bible tells us as fathers not to exasperate our children, but instead to bring them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). For most fathers, I venture it is easier to instruct than it is to nurture, but God challenges us to do both. And I am convinced that so long as we are fathers, that task is never complete – it may even apply to grandfathers!
Happy Father’s Day, and…
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.