Do you ever struggle with picking out the right Father’s Day card for your Dad? Do they all sound too syrupy? Too impersonal? Too over-the-top gushy?
As a personal historian and ghostwriter who helps people write their life stories and a teacher of Autobiographical Writing classes, I’ve got an idea for something a little bit different. Make your own personal Father’s Day greeting by writing simple reflections of some of your most memorable moments you and your dad have shared together.
Don’t worry about sounding poetic. Just be yourself. Pick five stories, or three, or even just one. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was. Doesn’t matter how dramatic the story was. Ordinary will work just fine. What counts is your willingness to be yourself and recount a story that you know he will appreciate because he remembers it too.
But you’re not a writer, you say? Just set a timer for 10 minutes. Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper (doesn’t matter how pretty it looks) and write these words: “I remember one time with Dad when…” Then, for the next 10 minutes, fill in the blanks with whatever words come next. Don’t try to think it out ahead of time. Just let your memory bank spill out. The story is there. You’ve told it before, or if you’ve thought about it many times.
Then, if you feel as if you’re just getting warmed up, set the timer for 10 more minutes ( or five) and write, “I also remember…” And tell another story that shows something about your dad. You don’t have to wrap it up with a fancy “bow” of an ending. All endings are arbitrary, and sometimes what’s left unsaid can be more impactful than what you try to force.
I remember… That’s all it takes to get you going, to capture snippets of time when your dad was just…being your dad. When he reads it, he will appreciate the gift of being known.
Now, if you happen to enjoy drawing or coloring, you may also want to create your own cover for this different kind of Father’s Day card. But if that’s going too far on your creativity meter, go to your computer and look for pictures or images that somehow or other speak to who your dad is and how he looks at life. Again, you’ll know it when you see it. Or just download one of your own photos of Dad.
Put this all together and present it to your dad on Father’s Day. Take a moment to appreciate how you, in your own way, without plopping down five bucks on a Hallmark ready-made production, have found just the right kind of card for Father’s Day.
– Kevin Quirk, Personal Historian and Ghostwriter with Life Is a Book, Member of the Association of Personal Historians, and author of Your Life Is a Book – And it’s Time to Write It! An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story