It was Christmas 1957 and I was 10 years old. I had thick hair that was hard to manage and my mother more often than not pulled it tightly back into a ponytail. I started asking early for the Lady Sunbeam hair dryer that year—you might remember the kind—the one with a plastic hood and a tube that delivered hot air. I was sure that it would solve all my hair problems and that I would look like Grace Kelly.
But 15 days before Christmas I found a beautifully wrapped small box under the tree that my father promised would bring me great joy. For those 15 days, I tried to keep my disappointment hidden. How he could he know what I needed to manage my 10-year-old life? The box didn’t rattle or even look interesting.
On Christmas morning I awoke with a heavy heart. But when I descended down the stairs and looked under the Christmas tree, there was the Lady Sunbeam, all laid out and ready to use. He had a big smile on his face as I jumped up and down. And the package? A block of wood. My family laughed all day.
I lost my father when I was 29 years old. I didn’t keep the block of wood and the hair dryer is long gone, but his lesson has stayed with me my entire life. Keep a sense of humor and know that it’s not the present that helps us manage our lives or lingers over time; it’s the love.