The Empty Hammock

Father's Day is coming soon, so today I will share with you a cautionary tale of gift-giving. Here you see a picture of a hammock: a well-intentioned but misguided attempt at finding a gift for the man who has everything. It all began years ago with a dream. I was visiting a friend and as our children played in her backyard and we chatted, I noticed a hammock hanging between two trees. It looked so inviting and the kids were climbing on it and swinging each other in it. I thought: someday I would like to have a yard with some trees close enough together to put up a hammock. I imagined someone relaxing in it on a summer day with a good book and some lemonade...maybe one of the kids, or my husband. But not me -- because if I laid in a hammock, all of the kids would swarm in and climb aboard and defeat the whole "quiet relaxation" thing. But I still thought it would be wonderful. It just never happened. We moved twice after that but both places were sadly lacking in sturdy, close-together trees. There was a brief window of hope when we bought the property our current home is now built on. (Apologies to our daughter with the Minor in English: I realize I just ended that sentence with a preposition but I couldn't think of any other word for that sentence to end on. Oops! I did it again... now I sound like Britney Spears...but I digress!) There had been a few potential hammock-hanging trees-- until the builder bulldozed and chain-sawed (sorry Shanna--that's bad English too!) them into oblivion. So there I was: left with a dream but no place to hang it. Until one day, the Pottery Barn catalog arrived in the mail. And on the front cover was a hammock. A free-standing hammock-- a hammock that didn't need trees for support. The dream was reborn! It was a few weeks before Father's Day so I decided the dream would be a gift for my husband. He is famous for buying whatever he wants or needs as the need arises-- with no thought whatsoever to those of his loved ones who need to come up with a gift for the various occasions of his life throughout the year. But as far as I knew he wasn't planning to buy a hammock anytime soon. When it arrived, the kids helped me put it together and had a great time testing it. Andy was out of town so it was easy to keep it a secret until Father's Day. Well, the day arrived and we showed him the hammock. He expressed the obligatory thanks and then went back inside. The kids played on it all afternoon. Over the following days and weeks they used it as a boat, a fort, a flying carpet and a wrestling mat. Andy, on the other hand, never went near it. It began to dawn on me that I had foisted my dream on a man who does not relax. It was not a true gift because it was what I wanted. The irony is-- I never relaxed in it either. Eventually it lost its appeal to the kids and spent long, lonely summers exiled to the far regions of our yard. Empty.

This Father's Day I lucked out and found the perfect gift for Andy. But I can't show you until Sunday because he reads this blog!


Shanna said…
Ohh I remember this hammock well. Such a sad reminder of ALL the gifts gone awry for our dear father. It's not his fault. It's just a challenge of this life we've all had to attempt to overcome. But it's always worth it on the rare occasion that we do find a great gift for him. It's ten times the amount of gift-giver joy, because it took ten times the effort. =)

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