EDITORIAL: Thanks, Dad: Best gift for Father’s Day: Show him he’s appreciated

For many families, Father’s Day is a bit different from Mother’s Day, which is celebrated a month earlier. Families make it a point to give Mom the day off, taking her out to eat or another special place, just to get her out of the house. More tangible presents often are flowers, candy and other items that might have short life spans.

Many of us, on the other hand, give dad a new set of utensils for the grill, bring over some steaks and put him to work. Other gifts are in a similar vein — tools for working on the car or in the yard, a foot bath or bottle of scotch to help wind down after a hard day’s work.

It’s hard to shop for Dad. Our fathers might not be inclined to voice their needs or desires; when they want or need something they just go out and get it.

Our gifts on such days can be a reflection of how we see each parent: Mother’s the nurturer and teacher who spends more time with us and guides us through our everyday lives. Dad is the provider and protector, spending much of the day at work. Even during family gatherings, he might be stationed at the grill while the rest of the family is in the kitchen or elsewhere, visiting or otherwise occupied until the meal is ready.

We might have utilitarian impressions of our fathers, but through our lives they might have given us hidden gifts that can come at any time, with little fanfare. Mom offers constant advice and admonitions while Dad might be a man of much fewer words. In retrospect, however, he might have bestowed upon us small but significant pearls of wisdom that could have changed our lives without our realization — telling us how to deal with a childhood crisis or accept things we can’t control; words of inspiration at major milestones like our graduation or the eve of our weddings, or perhaps during an evening spent on the jetties, tending lines in the water, listening to a game on a portable radio and just talking about life in general.

The house probably reflects our mother’s tastes, but our fathers probably have a more eclectic music collection that helped shape our tastes in entertainment.

How, then, do we adequately show our appreciation for all our fathers have done?

Fortunately, many might already feel as if they have received the best gift possible, if the COVID-19 pandemic forced — or enabled — them to work from home instead of going to the shop or to the office every day. Fathers traditionally have spent the day working — even in ancient times they were out hunting and gathering — not because they wanted to, but because they had to.

Fathers who have spend more time at home during the past year might have developed closer bonds with their children. If those children are small, Dad might have been able to witness special daily milestones they otherwise might have missed — a baby’s first words, the first steps, or the first minor but painful injury that he can heal with a kiss.

We generally see our fathers as workers and providers. And even if that’s how they see themselves, a more personal connection, a sign that their work is appreciated, might be the best Father’s Day gift.

A simple hug and thank-you might be the cheapest gift one can gift, but it can be the most valuable.

Happy Father’s Day to all those dedicated Dads.