What fathers really want for Christmas

Richard Whitrock and Richard Whitrock

AT ISSUE: With the holidays right around the corner, what are the best and worst gifts for dads?

HOUSTON – Now that Thanksgiving is over, people all over the country are turning their attention to that other holiday of the year … you know, the one where Wal-Mart reports as many stampede deaths as a European football riot. ‘Tis the season of shameless commercialism, also known as Christmas. Agree with it or not, this holiday has been thoroughly commercialized, and there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it. The joy of giving and getting is too great, and the tradition too ingrained in our subconscious for us to ignore the call of the mall.

So rather than whine and complain about the vast commercial conspiracy that exists solely to suck up every extra holiday dollar, I thought it might be appropriate to focus on one of the traditionally more difficult shopping subjects: Dad.

Fathers are unique in that there are no default gifts. What to get Mom/Sister? Jewelry. Can’t go wrong with jewelry. Brother? Video games and (if young enough) play swords and guns. These gifts are as sure-fire as a Smith ‘ Wesson. There is simply no way to go wrong. Dads are a different story.

While it is true that most dads aren’t picky (and would therefore be ecstatic with a lump of salt water taffy and a really bad tie), the truth is that there are certain gifts that every single living father would cherish. They secretly yearn for these, year after year.

The following list is to be used only as a guide for do’s and do not’s for dads (and most men in general), because nothing can replace the care of that personal touch.

Ultimate Dad Gift No. 1 — Power tools. Listen for the sounds of grunting in your local Lowe’s or Home Depot and it’s sure to lead you to do-it-yourself heaven. Whether Dad actually uses power tools for practical things makes no difference: having the tools means he can, and that makes him drool.

Ultimate Dad Gift Mistake No. 1 — Sexy lingerie/swimsuit calendar — Great for older bro, bad for Dad. Unless you want your father to spend the next 12 months in the doghouse (where he will at least be able to keep track of the time), sexy calendars are a no-no.

Ultimate Dad Gift No. 2 — Grills. Not only do they appeal to the Neanderthal mentality, they combine two of the greatest pleasures in life: fire and food. Nothing goes better with singed eyebrows than an expanding waistline. Besides, all men brag about their grills, and if all they have to brag about is a 1960 Sputnik, this gift will be his favorite.

Ultimate Dad Gift Mistake No. 2 — Rogaine. This is the equivalent of giving Mom Slim-Fast for Christmas. Enough said.

Ultimate Dad Gift No. 3 — Satellite TV/cool shiny gadgets. Yes, men are Neanderthals, and as such they are attracted by shiny objects and hundreds of useless channels that they may only watch once. The odd part is that they are especially attracted to new shiny objects; in other words, anything on the edge of technology will get a satisfied grunt and a big hug. It doesn’t really matter what it is because they will find a way to pretend that it is the most useful thing since fire.

Ultimate Dad Gift Mistake No. 3 — Coffeshop Gift Certificates. Not just because men have no use for a gajillion different ways to say “coffee,” but because it is a bad idea for a person who is obsessed with fire and shiny objects to have an unlimited amount of caffeine at his disposal.

Merry Christmas and happy shopping.