A few weeks ago my dad called me up and told me (emphasis on “told” as in saying “no” wasn’t really on option), “Hey, I’m gonna write a Father’s Day blog” to which I said, “You mean a Father’s Day post? Ok, write it and we’ll see.” You don’t get to write on Style by Emily Henderson without knowing it’s called A POST, dad. So after a few edits of what he considered every time to be his “final draft,” I sent it to Emily because I was clearly too close to really make a truly objective call. I love my dad’s writing because it’s just so him. I hear his accent, his pacing, his laugh and it all makes me happy. When my mom first got sick 12 years ago, instead of having to individually answer and ultimately console every well-intentioned call, he started a weekly email called Julia’s Update. They are to this day some of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have yet to read. It wasn’t just about her cancer or her sometimes up, sometimes down condition, but the story of a man who loved his wife heart and soul (that’s how they would sign their cards to each other, H&S). This of course is not that but hopefully helps to paint a deeper picture as you read.
He really is the kinda man that’s impossible to put in a box. Just when you write him off as a tough guy from Chicago with a million insane stories that can build almost anything, he starts talking about starting a flower shop business out of the back of his vintage Ford truck because “the flowers in his town suck”. And my apologies to anyone who has sat next to him on an airplane while watching “The Greatest Showman” and potentially heard his mumblings of how he was cheated out of having a good voice. He just can’t overcome the urge to dance in his seat with every song (or around the living room where seatbelts aren’t an issue). This is all to say that he is the absolute most incredible person I have ever met. I owe so much of my ambition, humor, carpentry skills (ok, all of my carpentry skills), and more to him. So getting to share him with you today is pretty special. Plus he has some really great gift ideas that maybe I’ll be using in the near and far future:) What a relief!
Now, if I call him a boomer he might actually shoot me. So all I will say is there’s a 40-year difference which shocks most people (he would want me to add that) and many of you might have an equally “badass dad who has zero time for bullsh*&# but likes nice and/or useful things”. SO without further ado, Lester take it away…
Every year around this time, my daughter Jess asks me for Father’s Day gift suggestions. Because EHD’s team is mostly women. A dad’s opinion seems to be in order. Many of my suggestions are not used because they are expensive (my tastes have definitely gotten more expensive with no kids to support). Jess doesn’t want to offend any readers or cost you a lot of money. Good for her. However, I guarantee you the father recipients would not be upset or offended with a Tom Ford custom suit. Ha! We all think we deserve it (and we probably do). So, If we get away from expensive, then the gift needs to be useful. I cannot tell you how many of my Father’s Day gifts have gone into “The Drawer” along with the peace sign tie, the Harley Davidson bottle opener, the glow in the dark pen, the pressure point wristbands for motion sickness, the miniature Swiss army knife, the switchblade, and golf green repair tool. The list goes on and on. Yikes! In defense of my kids, they have gotten better with age but every once in a while I’ll get a “Drawer” candidate. So let’s get down to some basics.
Father’s Day gifts should be used or worn more than just when the kids visit. And that should be voluntary not out of guilt. They should be something that fits our character and habits (why do our children want to change us?). I like working with my hands so tools are a good bet. An artist’s easel with paint and brushes didn’t quite work for me (sorry, Jess). But I did give it a shot. Succeeded in embarrassing myself. Most dads wear some kind of aftershave or cologne. Ok, Old Spice is not Creed Aventus but it’s what I like. A fancy wood-burning pizza oven was way too much work. By the time I got the wood going, I could’ve cooked a half dozen pizzas in my conventional oven in 12 minutes. I like easy. I think most dads prefer easy too. So, here are some suggestions:
A Type S 12v Jump Starter. It is a portable power bank for jump-starting your vehicle. No more jumper cables. No need to get another vehicle involved. And it is small. Fits easily under your seat. It will charge any cell phone or computer and is rechargeable. It’s real handy. Any auto parts store has them. Also on Amazon, you can filter them by type of car so that you make sure you get one that’s gonna work.
Something else automotive could be a mobile detailing gift certificate or an oil change gift certificate works also. Sooner or later we have to get it done. The gift doesn’t always need to be something you can hold in your hand. Services are good and appreciated.
So I bought this trail camera to monitor my chicken coop at night. The chicken feed was being consumed at an extraordinary rate. My girls (chickens) just couldn’t eat that much. Lo and behold I saw the entire neighborhood having dinner. In the early evening, the squirrels would dine along with an assortment of birds. In the late-night hours gophers and rats would be feasting. I also found their entry points. I even spotted a deer grazing just outside the coop. It was all I needed to see to solve the issues. After seeing its capabilities I have all sorts of ideas on how to put this camera to good use since I’ve turned into kinda an outdoorsy guy during the pandemic. It comes in a camo color which is Dad-friendly and has wifi so I can monitor from anywhere. It’s perfect.
If your dad is about clothes, a jean jacket never doesn’t satisfy. We wear them often. We can beat them up. They are washable (though that doesn’t happen often around here). Just make sure it has pockets. We need pockets. We’ve been stashing stuff in our pockets since kindergarten (frogs, marbles, matches, etc.)
Most men have dozens of t-shirts but we only wear maybe 6 of them constantly. (I cannot figure out why we hold on to the others ). T-shirts are harder than you think. First of all, you must know if your dad likes the artwork on the front or on the back. We all have a preference. I prefer the front (not afraid to make a statement). This is probably the first my kids have heard that (they’ve just guessed right all these years). Then finding the perfect shirt is brutal. One year my son bought me a “Princess Bride” t-shirt. I love it and never go a day without at least one compliment when I am wearing it. I’m gonna guess my son and I watched that movie at least fifty times when he was much younger. He would lay on my chest and we wouldn’t budge for two hours. Jess and I did the same for “The Little Mermaid”. Though she didn’t get me that shirt, she did get me one from one of my personal favorite movies, “The Greatest Showman” (I’ve always been a song and dance guy. What can I say?) I get compliments galore on that one also. My best memories are of those two on my chest. My late wife lying on my chest was pretty awesome too. Man, do I miss those days. Where was I? Oh yeah, Father’s Day.
If your dad is a handyman type like me, a tool might work. The most versatile cordless tool I have is a multi-tool. All manufacturers make them. Look for a sale. Sometimes the Lowes and Home Depots of the world have a set of cordless tools on sale with a multi-tool included. It is a good way to complement his tool collection and give your dad the multi-tool. Win, Win! Though I use other tools more often, the multi-tool has saved the day more than any other.
Editor’s Note: Les prefers the Milwaukee but both are good. Also, if your dad already has cordless power tools then keep the brands the same so the batteries are interchangeable (also make sure if you buy a multi-tool make sure it has a battery:)
Another tool that most people don’t have lying around is a bottle jack. A small or medium size is fine. The only caveat is that your dad won’t truly appreciate it until he needs it. On that day, you’re a star.
Undersink repairs are common and hard to get at. A telescoping basin wrench makes life much easier for us old guys. Again, won’t be appreciated until he needs it.
If your dad is a golfer, a dozen balls and a round of golf (for at least two) is perfect. Free balls and free golf… that’s what we see. Yay!
If your dad likes to cook like I do, one sharp quality knife is all I need (they are worth the do-re-me).
It’s not hard if you keep it simple. Activities are good too. A professional baseball game with my kids was always a great day. I taught both of them how to keep score. I would test them during the game. It was great. I know the pandemic has put the maliooks (read: a stop) on this idea to some extent but they do have limited safe seating and if everyone is vaccinated, why not?
I would guess a picnic in the park is safe enough these days. Personally, I’d like a picnic in Central Park. It’s the greatest park in the world in the greatest city in the world. Yep, I would like that. I think every dad has a favorite place like that.
Editor’s Note: For my brother’s birthday, my dad ordered a few “kits” from The Taste of Chicago and it was awesome. We were in heaven. Deep dish pizzas and a Chicago Dog kit (yes, even the poppy seed buns and celery salt).
We have enough socks, we have enough baseball caps, we have enough ties, we have enough gadgets (unless you come across a really cool one). We don’t need anything with “World’s Best Dad!” on it. We already know that. On a more personal level, you could do something with pictures of you and your Dad. Hint: we really liked you as babies.
I am certainly not opposed to a bouquet of flowers. I have a twin sister and my feminine side is strong (thank god) Hint: Not a fan of grocery store flowers.
Just keep it simple and keep it real. Spend time on the card. Funny is better than mushy. We’ll get mushy anyway. Our greatest joy is our kid’s happiness. So be happy! It’s a good gift believe me. When my kids thank me for something that I have taught them (either literally or by example) it just lights me up. So speak up. That’s a good gift too.
Let me end with this. As a young man I always wondered what my purpose in life was. From the day I was born until October 5th, 1987 I didn’t have any idea why I existed. At 1:23 pm on that day my purpose was discovered. Jessica Bunge was born. It was as easy as 1,2,3. Who knew? A couple of years later Morgan Bunge joined the club. Fatherhood was and is as natural to me as anything I have ever done. It is why I am here. The sight of how my kids have turned out takes my breath away. Just like the sight of their mother used to. Have a happy Father’s Day everyone!
P.S. Most of my “Drawer Gifts” were given to me by my son. Also, I may have mentioned in passing at some moment I would like to try painting (don’t want to piss my editor off).
Jess again. The first time I read this I both laughed to myself and, of course, cried at the end. Then again I’m a real sap, but a sap that was pretty excited to share a little bit of ole Les Bunge with you all. I mean he’s the man that built THE BENCH. I hope that there was at least one idea for those of you shopping for your dads, grandfathers, stepfathers, and/or father figures in your life. And we have a few weeks! So don’t be like I’ve been nearly every single year and stress out, wanting to somehow show this crazy great man how grateful I am for him. I guess I should have always just kept it simple:)
Love you, mean it. (This phrase was actually on a card he got me years ago and I love that it’s both hilarious and heartfelt. That’s why I end every post with it.)