Thursday, December 24, 2015

New Tables

Christmas is upon us. I am reminded of a story from my childhood.

I was a boy of ten or twelve. At that time, Pops was really enamored with woodworking. He still is, but can only do so much these days. Anyways, we were out shopping one day, and we came across a set of tables like the one pictured. The set of four plus the stand was priced around $50. Quite a tab for the mid-1980's.

Pops looked at the display tables. He picked them up, opened them, looked at them from every angle, and also looked at the carrier. To say he looked at them is a disservice. Pops analyzed these tables from every angle. He was studying them the way a gemstone expert might evaluate a rare and priceless diamond.

Later that day, we went to the Home Depot, and Pops purchased several batches of wood and other supplies.

Over the next few weeks, he busied himself in his workshop, building away. The saws buzzed, the drill whirled, and the hammer banged.

The weekend before Christmas, my family hosted a party. We had several families over. A dozen, perhaps? Toward the end of the gathering, gifts were exchanged. Pops went to his room and pulled out a set of four TV dinner tables, plus a carrier, for each family. There were "oohs" and "ahhhs." The men weren't having any of it, as they said the gift was too expensive!

Even as a boy, I understood that these people thought Pops had purchased these tables at a store for them. That was a compliment as they could not tell that the tables he gave them were hand made. The tables worked perfectly and actually looked better than the ones at the store. Surely, he had spent over $500 buying gifts for them all, they must have thought.

Little did they know that he had spent only a fraction of that. Maybe $50 in materials for the entire lot of it. And the joy he had in building them added to the benefit of knowing he had pleased his guests with a useful gift. The satisfaction and pride of having his handiwork be confused for a premium item from a major retailer had to boost his self esteem. All of it combined for a tremendous joy of giving.

Some years later, one of the guests - a close, personal friend of the family - learned that Pops had built the tables. They thought that surely he was playing a prank on them by even suggesting that. But we verified it for him, and the secret was out. In the end, I think it added to the value of the gift for that family - knowing that my father had put so much personal time and effort into constructing something they used with great frequency.

There are several great things to take from this story, what did you take from it?


  1. Sounds like your dad was an arrogant prick who wanted to show off

  2. Hi, Erica... or should I say, Joe. I'd ask how your Christmas has been, but
    1. You're already trolling my blog,
    2. It's a full moon, and we all know how that affects you when you're off your meds (or hell, even when you're *on* your meds), and
    3. IDGAF

    Please have a Merry Christmas anyways... in spite of yourself.


Your comment will be displayed after approval.
Approval depends on what you say and how you say it.