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Today will be my last column. It has been a most enjoyable experience. One thing I've appreciated this last year of writing for the Times has been ideas from friends for topics to address.

From time to time I have even asked for ideas for columns either from close family or from friends on Facebook. Some ideas were unsolicited.

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One such topic was to compare a potential slight dads experience relative to moms since Mother's Day occurs during the school year while Father's Day happens in the summer.

My friend suggested this created an imbalance in the kinds of crafts, cards and presents that young children are asked to create for their mothers in school. There is no equivalent institutional context for youngsters to generate mementos for fathers.

I'm not sure if there is a whole column on just this idea, but I thought it was an interesting observation.

One thing both mothers and fathers do share in common is sacrifice. Parents routinely sacrifice for their children on many levels.

Thursday marked the day set aside for remembering the sacrifice our Heavenly Father made in sending His one and only Son to earth. How audacious it was of God's plan to send Jesus, not as some commanding figure of wrath and power, but rather as new born baby.

Christ's birth is a perfect picture of trust and dependence. His presence affected all around him from the very beginning of His time on earth.

Christ's impact on humanity culminates in his sacrificial death and resurrection. He offers forgiveness and eternal life to people on the simple proposition of faith.

Our earthly parents can't be expected to offer sacrifice on that scale, but their efforts on behalf of their children certainly deserve appreciation.

My parents' sacrifices for me included their time, talents and treasure. My dad always made time to teach me how to throw and hit a ball. He consistently invited me to ride along with him when he visited his test fields and greenhouses on weekends. He was a research scientist when I was young.

My mom was devoted to keeping a clean home well stocked with all manner of treats. She was always there for a little tender loving care in the event of a skinned knee or some bruised emotions.

One of my favorite memories of my dad was attending a father-son summer camp operated by the YMCA. One of our neighbors was attending the same camp, and he captured a photograph of my dad and me running the wheel-barrow race.

In the photo my dad has my ankles and I'm churning away with my hands on the ground. We're both sporting rather serious looks of determination in the picture.

A favorite memory of my mom was a trip to buy a pair of ice skates. I was in the fourth grade and a class skating event was scheduled for later in the week. We lived in Fargo, North Dakota at the time. My school had an outdoor rink on a grass field flooded for this purpose.

I had outgrown my old skates and needed a new pair to participate in the skate day. I could have easily made due with an inexpensive pair, since I was not likely to use them a great deal the rest of the winter. Instead, I begged for an expensive set of hockey skates so I could look cooler with my peers. Mom knew that it was important to me and paid the extra amount.

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The whole Christmas season was always a big deal from my sister and brother and me growing up. With some reflection I can see that the Christmas morning gift giving was important to my parents also.

They were both raised on small farms in central Illinois. They had plenty of love in their homes, but their material possessions were limited. I know my folks enjoyed being able to provide lots of toys that they never had as youngsters.

The presents and traditions I had at Christmas time growing up were wonderful. Immeasurably even more important was the unconditional love my parents lived out for me.

Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His email address is zimlaw64@gmail.com.

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