My column this week for The Oconee Leader.
We don’t make a big deal out of holidays like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in our house, and we never have. A couple of funny cards, an inexpensive gift and a meal off the grill or at a favorite restaurant is about the extent of what we do.
So it was with more than a little surprise that I accepted the lavish gifts bestowed unto me by my sons this year.
I knew something was going on by the way my 14-year-old Robert kept going into my closet and making furtive phone calls to his grandfather. Later in the day I saw Harrison, my 20-year-old, handing Robert cash.
Giving up of cash is not the sort of thing that happens easily in our house. My sons, like their father before them, are notoriously tight fisted, especially when it comes to each other. So my suspicions were dramatically increased when I saw Harrison voluntarily passing money to Robert.
The obvious conclusion for this sort of behavior the day before Father’s Day was that my sons were colluding to get me a gift. But, as I noted earlier, this isn’t the sort of thing for which there is historical precedence.
Then Saturday afternoon my dad came by the house and got Robert, and the two of them went off on some sort of shopping expedition.
If there is zero historical precedence for my sons to get me a gift, there is even less historical precedence for my dad to go shopping.
What I should have known was that Robert was not colluding with his brothers to get me a gift as much as he was colluding with his brothers to get a gift that he would enjoy.
The mystery was settled Saturday afternoon when Robert walked into the house and handed me my Father’s Day gift: A box of 50 rounds of .40 caliber bullets.
The boys and I go shooting from time to time, and the last time we went we used up all my practice rounds. We all enjoy shooting, but none of us enjoy shooting like Robert does. The last several times he has asked to send some lead down range, I have answered him that I’m all out of practice rounds. And the ammunition I do have is too expensive to shoot just for fun.
Of the 50 rounds Robert and Harrison bought me for Father’s Day, I reckon I’ll fire five or six shots. The other rounds will be distributed between Robert, Harrison and Nathan.
During the brief gift giving ceremony, Nathan complained that he’d been left out of the transaction, and he was made to look like the bad son because he didn’t pitch in on the gift.
So a little while later, Jean took Nate to the Golden Pantry, and when they returned he had a 4-count package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
I felt bad for Nathan, who felt guilted into buying me a Father’s Day gift, especially knowing that the gift from his brothers was more for them than it was for me.
Harrison wasn’t around, so using both hands I counted up the number of people in the house – me and Jean and Robert and Nathan – and realizing there were four of us and four Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, I decided to divide up my second Father’s Day gift – giving everyone a peanut butter cup.
So it was a successful Father’s Day for me. A box of bullets and a Reese’s cup made me feel like I’d been pretty successful as a father.
On Sunday we went with my parents to lunch, and there I learned that if I thought I’d done pretty well on Father’s Day, it was nothing to how well Robert did.
My mom got me a gift certificate to a shooting range some time ago, and I haven’t used it because the boys and I shot up all my practice rounds shooting at a cardboard box in a field.
Apparently, she said something to Robert about using that gift certificate and he somehow connived to get her to make a wager about me using that gift certificate.
When it’s all said and done, Robert will have gotten Harrison to chip in on the box of bullets, he’ll get to go shooting, and he’ll get his grandmother to pay him (from their bet) for his investment in the bullets. And to top it off, he managed to get a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
I’ve celebrated Father’s Day as a father 21 times now, and somehow, 14-year-old Robert, who doesn’t even have a girlfriend, much less children, has managed to top me in Father’s Day gifts.
Rob Peecher is author of “Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings,” available at Amazon.com.