What did you get for Christmas?

The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers

by Morris Turner III

I am not one who waits on pins and needles for the Christmas holiday each year, but I do enjoy celebrating occasions that bring family and friends together.

Morris-Turner-with-sons-Kwasi-Malcolm-225x300, What did you get for Christmas?, Culture Currents
Morris Turner constantly reaffirms his appreciation of his sons Kwasi and Malcolm by reminding them that “I love you not for what you do or accomplish but for who you are as people.”

My wife and I bought new shoes for the grandkids, a yearly tradition, and gave our two sons “gas money,” also a family tradition. We surprised a neighbor who is suffering from serious illness with a home cooked turkey dinner. As the saying goes, there is nothing like giving to make your heart feel good.

I was blessed to have two parents who preached into me and my siblings the value of humility and the importance of raising up those who could not raise themselves. Although I have gotten better over the years, my continuing challenge is my ability or willingness to “accept” gifts from others.

Well, this holiday season, I’ve had an opportunity to work on that area of my life. Three wise men, actually young men, all presented me with a gift I didn’t dare refuse. The gift from each one was the same: a simple “check-in” via telephone to let me know they appreciated me and that our relationships meant a lot to them. That’s what the old folks call “receiving your flowers while you are still living.”

Appreciation is an easy gift to share with someone you care about and, best of all, it doesn’t cost you anything. All you have to do is open your mouth and heart and say what you feel. I hope that each of you will have an opportunity to give or receive this wonderful gift at some point during the year.

Morris Turner, the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35, was a community worker with the Black Panther Party. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at missnpages@comcast.net.