Has something like this ever happened to you?
A few winters back, one of my neighbors needed their car cleaned off of snow. She had a doctor’s appointment, and I was already out cleaning the 6 inches off our vehicles. So I quickly cleaned off her driver’s side so she could clamber in and turn on the car. Then I took care of the rest so she could get on her way.
The next day she knocked on our door and gave me a little package of nuts. I didn’t expect anything for my trouble, so it was a little awkward. It had meant something to her that I went out of my way to clean her car. I also got this vibe like she didn’t want to be in my debt. So I accepted her gift in the most awkward way possible, almost as if I was just tolerating her presence.
I didn’t mean to come off that way, but it has led to some reflection on how I receive gifts. Christmas, Birthdays, and in between, most of them I have just tolerated. After reflecting, it didn’t feel right that I was just suffering through people’s gifts.
So I am a pretty big Taylor Swift fan. Her music has graced every playlist I have ever made. Last year she released two great albums, but none of the songs has stuck with me like ‘Tolerate It.’
No song has ever encapsulated what I suspected the gift-givers have always felt about me. It hurt to hear, but it was something I needed. Read (or listen 0:52) the chorus and see if this hits you (bold mine):
I wait by the door like I’m just a kid
Use my best colors for your portrait
Lay the table with the fancy shit
And watch you tolerate it
If it’s all in my head, tell me now
Tell me I’ve got it wrong somehow
I know my love should be celebrated
But you tolerate itTaylor Swift ‘Tolerate It’ 2020 Republic Records
Ugh, it just calls me out for every time I have just tolerated someone. People deserve better than me enduring them. Yeah, that puts some burden on me, but really I need to just get over myself and let people love me. As an independent person, it really is difficult for me to let people love me. And well, that only gets harder when you are a Father.
My kids need to know and feel like I want them around. They need to feel like they are worth more than tolerating. I accomplish this by not just showing them my love but receiving theirs too.
With Father’s Day coming up, this is the day where many of us want to just get away from our family. But, they just want to spend it with us. Unfortunately, fathers are the worst gift receivers on Father’s Day. I know some of you better humans exist out there, but the rest of us are just tolerating it.
But we can do better because it is worth doing better. Father’s Day is a lot more fun when we decide to care about being a good father and more than ourselves. Hint: Being a father is being yourself. Yeah, let that sink in and marinate in your brain and self-identity.
So here are my tips a week ahead of Father’s day to get better at receiving gifts and love. I am not perfect at these, but they have afforded me more joy in the handcrafted and thoughtfully given gifts of love. They have helped me move beyond tolerating presents into enjoying them.
Father’s Day Tips:
- Realize that your family loves you. I know it sounds basic, but I suspect a too large portion of us fears that our family doesn’t love us. We have failed them and let them down. Father’s Day, in many ways, serves as an awful reminder of how terrible of a father we are. But you know what? Your kids still love you. They still want you to love them. So chill out and realize that you are loved. Maybe even let that love inspire your future fatherhood endeavors.
- Rest in love. Yeah, that sounds nebulous, but it’s the best way I can describe it. How about this? Imagine you are outside, basking in a hammock on the perfect temperature day with that right amount of cloud cover that makes it not too bright. That hammock is the love of your family. Rest in it.
Maybe your more of an inside guy/computer guy: think about your favorite movie, book, or videogame. Now think about enjoying it in a super comfy chair. One that reclines just right to give you support but lets you melt into it. That chair is your family’s love.
You may not get a lovely day, and you might not get to watch your favorite movie because your kids are 4 and 2. It’s fine; I’m not bitter. Yet, the rest remains. So think about the letting go that happens in the hammock or chair. Then let go of all your tension before gift time, and then you have some emotional room to receive love.
- Give a shit. Those first two didn’t do it for you? Then just give a shit about the people around you. Did they take time/spend money/think about you enough to get you something for a made-up holiday? The answer is yes. Give a shit about them.
- Cheat code – Take a peek at them while you are opening your gift from them. Their face will give you cues on how to feel.
- If they are excited about the gift, then get excited.
- If they are trying to play it cool, then they think they crushed it. So tell them specifically how they crushed it.
- If they are curious, be curious about what they are getting. What did they think you were going to use it for? How were they hoping you would feel about it? Of course, they thought you would like it, but imagine with them when you receive the gift.
- If they are concerned, they don’t think you will like it or worry about it. So show them you want it by demonstrating why it’s a good gift. Refer to the following cheat code to soothe.
- Cheat code – Let them catch you using the gift.
- Bonus: if it is clothes go try it on right away. Then they can see you in it and may decide you look goofy or good. FYI, most of the time, women know how to dress us better than we know how to dress, so just trust them.
- Advanced – Think about the other person. When you get top tier, you can follow your emotions about that person giving you the gift and love it no matter what. This one took me a few years to even get close to. For example, when I think about my son, I think about how much joy he draws from creating. I show him that same joy when he has made me something because he fashioned it specifically for me with the best of his abilities. My pride in his abilities comes through as me being proud of his gift when I thank him. Like I said, next level.
That should get you started. Let me know your tips in the comments.