The thing about Papa is...he's never been big about birthdays and doesn't particularly enjoy Christmas gift-giving. Everybody in the Wachsmuth clan knows that what Lou really wants for those special annual markers on the calendar is 'nothing'. My clever sister-in-law took him at his word one year and wrapped up an empty box for him and set it under the Christmas tree. Come Christmas morning, he unwrapped the gift to find out that it was 'what he'd always wanted'. It made him blush...because he actually did expect something in that box. You see, although we all know he says he doesn't want a gift...we can't bear not to give him one. Even my sister-in-law ended up giving him a book later that hadn't arrived in time for Christmas. In our culture, remembering birthdays and gift-giving on Christmas are ways to show our love.
But I think it's important to point out that there's something else about Papa. He may march to the beat of his own drum, but that doesn't mean that he's not thoughtful. He just has unique ideas of how to show us he cares. Like....
when he gave me a flower press for getting a job at West Hills Christian School a decade ago. I did not expect him to acknowledge my achievement or recognize the fact that I loved to press flowers. It was a fatherly gesture and I will never forget it.
when he showed up at my naturalization party with plants decorated with the red, white, and blue. I was impressed...and sad later when I eventually killed the broccoli plants. At least this strawberry plant survived...and he promises me he has more plants coming my way..
when he recently took my request for a guided tour of his garden very seriously and sent the attendees this letter to help us get us ready. He's got us studying the periodic table as one of the homework assignments. I'm sure we'll all learn a ton at the end of this month!!
when he spent hours sifting through the family slides to have professionals put the best ones on dvds...and sent a dvd in the mail for his grandkids to enjoy.
Those are the kinds of things that make it hard for me to resist saying "Happy Birthday, Lou!" or gift him with a little something. I decided to make him a homemade present this year and hope that he can take it as a thank you for being who he is.