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Monday, November 26, 2012

"No Presents! I MEAN It!"

Charlie received a birthday call from one of his sisters.  As I half-heartedly listened from the other room, I heard him say how he'd told all of us that he didn't want any presents.  That's not a new thing.  Much to the kids dismay, he tells all of us that every year.  Not just for his birthday, but for Christmas too.  The kids hate that.  They say he's so hard to buy for.  The truth of the matter is that he's not difficult to buy for at all.  He loves and appreciates everything.  I've never met anyone that's as easy to please.  The difference is he places very little value in material things.

My husband is the LEAST materialistic person I have ever known.  He doesn't covet the latest electronic devices.  We always have to explain to him what the draw is to iPhones, iPads, social media of any kind, and on top of that, he thinks that the computer is just a way he can play slot machines without going to the casino and spending real money.  He's one of the last people I know who has a really old cell phone that does nothing but receive and send phone calls.  No data plan, no picture mail, no camera, barely text.  In fact, he hates cell phones and wishes he didn't have one at all.  He wishes NO ONE had a cell phone.  He doesn't spend frivolously, mostly because we don't have "expendable" income.  He works hard to support us and he doesn't complain.  EVER.  He gives sacrificially and prefers that if money is spent, it's spent on the kids.  He doesn't really go out much; he prefers quiet evenings at home.  He says he's a guy with pretty simple wants.  He uses the word "wants" on purpose because he'll tell you that all he needs is knowing his family is happy and that there's a big difference between wants and needs.

Charlie's idea of a great night is sitting with friends, having a pint of his favorite hefeweizen, and talking about everything under the sun, moon, and stars.  His idea of a perfect present from his kids is when they call him on the phone, or sit with him after work or school, and share something wonderful about their day.  He tells them all the time that the joy in his life is hearing about their lives, their plans, their dreams, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing that they love him enough to tell him about those things.  When Averie calls, he will stop anything he's doing to talk to her.  When Caris wants to share a school project or plan, he is her rapt audience.  When Bry will sit with him over a pint or two and talk about anything, his shoulders straighten because his chest swells with pride.  These are the things that matter to him.  They cannot be bought, plugged in, charged up.  They don't glow, chirp, download, or play music.  There is no software, except the heart that beats in his chest.  He tears up when we're alone and he talks about his kids, me, our lives, and says how lucky he feels.

I have known people who say; "Oh don't bother to get me a gift."  They don't often mean it.  But Charlie means it.  He wants to share joy.  Truly.  With no pretense, with no agenda, without any measure whatsoever of the desire to be the center of attention, or show off a "thing" received.  He just cares that the people around him are happy, healthy, and full of joy.  "Because," he says, "nothing can make me as happy as knowing that maybe, just maybe, I had just a small part in putting some of that joy in their world and it made a difference."

Happy Birthday, Baby.  If anyone's lucky, it's the kids who call you their father and the wife who calls you her best friend.  YOU are our gift every single day.   


Blogger Jess said...

I know you and Charlie are my generation, obviously, but he reminds me of my Dad. And there's really no higher compliment from me than to be compared to either of my parents. All that you said about him could be said of my Dad, as far as the lack of material desires, the preference that money be spent on the kids, the pride in his kids... it's all the same, and I thought that was lost to a time long past. Nice to see that such people still exist in this world! (Also nice to know that Marc and I managed to connect with such people. Maybe we're doing something right!)

Happy Birthday, Charlie, and many more happy, healthy ones to come!

9:01 AM  
Blogger Pua; Bakin' and Tendin' Bar said...

What a lovely thing to say, Jess. I know Charlie will consider it an honor that he reminds you of your Dad. I know he loves it when the kids write about, talk about, and refer to him with love and admiration. You're right; there is no higher compliment anyone can make than that they bring to mind someone so dearly loved. Thank you. And yes, we feel the very same way about you and Bokey...we must be doing something right. :)

10:19 AM  

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