Today is Fathers’ Day. Giving my dad a gift is often tricky whether it is Fathers’ Day, his birthday, Christmas, Arbor Day, or Just Because I Love You Day. Unless I cook him dinner. That’s a gift he always loves as long as I don’t include mushrooms or zucchini or make anything too spicy.

But I can’t always cook for my dad for special occasions. Sometimes, I try to buy him something. When I was in college I used to describe my dad as “The man who has nothing and wants nothing.” It was an exaggeration and a joke to describe the difficulty of buying my dad anything! My brothers tell me about their gift giving challenges with Dad, as well. Sometimes we discuss our strategies for selecting a gift. I have settled on getting non-returnable items. This MOSTLY works.

You see my dad has a habit of refusing gifts because they are “too expensive”, “I only want a card”, and “I just want to spend time with my family.”  And he is being sincere that he would be happy with a card, a phone call, and/or spending time together.

However, there are gifts Dad will accept and he looks kind of happy to get them. So, gift-giving with my dad is a bit like playing a slot machine. Sometimes the payoff is big.

My dad gave a lot to us and that is one of the reasons we like to give him gifts. One of the gifts my dad gave to me was his love of taking photography. When I was a young girl, I remember that Dad decided that he needed a hobby. He chose photography. Dad purchased a good quality Nikon camera and built a darkroom in the house. I spent lots of time with him, at first watching him build counter tops and cabinets, and then later, I watched him develop film and make prints using his color enlarger. I remember how he worked to find the right balance of magenta, yellow, and cyan. I remember how used a piece of cardboard for dodging an area of an image to increase contrast.

Dad’s favorite subjects were nature. My parents love to be outdoors. My father has had many cameras and has been taking digital photographs for many years. I can’t imagine how many photos he has taken in the past 40 years, not to mention all of the old family photos he has copied and preserved.

I used to take a lot of photos. Some of them were good. Then I stopped. Then I started again with the camera on my smart phone. This gave me enough of a boost to buy a decent camera again, nothing too expensive, but a nice camera that takes nice photos.

I can never return to my dad what he gave to me in my life.

But I can give him the gift of my photography. And Dad, you can’t return this gift.

So there.

Happy Fathers’ Day. I love you, Dad.