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"I Want a Dad"

Something to remind us to be grateful for the right things...

I was at Toys R Us the other day. I met my dad there to help him pick up a gift for my daughter for the holidays. The reason we met at this particular location was because it was one of four locations in the entire city that had the item so coveted by my daughter. I had spent the morning online searching not only Toys R Us stores, but Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Barnes and Noble stores in Cleveland to see who had the orange box I was so desperately seeking.

My dad and I stood in the Customer Service line and waited for the blue-vested employee to appear from the back room with good news.

He did. "One left in stock, and you got it."

Music to my ears.

"That's the one she wants?", my dad asked.

"That's it!"

"Alright, let's check out."

As we waited in line for my dad to pay (this was his and grandma's gift to my daughter), I thought about how well my husband and I had done this year with her gifts. Not only do we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, but her birthday is also at the end of December. In the past, we have typically been those people who wait until the last minute (wait, how did that happen again?!) and end up making a midnight run to somewhere the night before one of the big days. However, this year, we started shopping early, we stuck to her list (which was quite detailed and specific), ordered some things online and were generally well prepared.

I was proud of us.

As my dad walked up to the counter, a friendly face looked at him and asked if he found everything he was looking for. He told her he did. I had grabbed a couple of additional toys for cousins we would be seeing the next day and my dad told me to put them on the counter. I told him the things were not for our daughter and that I would pay next.

Being the generous man that he is, he insisted that I put the items on the counter so he could pay for them all. After a brief argument (one I always lose in this situation), I stacked the toys on the counter and said, "thanks, dad."

The lady behind the register said, "Aw, what a nice dad you have to get you those things."

I replied with a smile that I did have a pretty good one.

Dad then said to the lady, in his generous way, "I'll get you something, too. What do you want?"

Without missing a beat, the lady smiled and simply said, "I want a dad."

(Take a beat and let that sink in for a moment.)

In an instant, all of the excitement of getting our shopping done early this year and being prepared to give gifts at the right time and being proud of finding the right gifts all melted from my mind. In an instant, the reality that it was all pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things overtook me.

That stranger reminded me of something that I sometimes forget; she reminded me that one must have perspective in life. This is a time of year when many of us exchange things. Those things can bring us joy and amusement and pleasure; they can also make us go to Walmart at midnight or Kohl's at 5am to get our hands on them before "missing out." That stranger at Toys R Us on a snowy December afternoon, who was only in my life for a couple of minutes, reminded me of the things that cannot be bought and cannot be replaced. They do not come with a warranty...when they are gone, they are gone. No one is going to send you a new one.

That lady has no idea that she made a difference in my life or that I would share this story with others for whom it might make a difference, as well.

I am grateful for her and for the "gifts" in my life that are priceless.

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