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The best dad gift

In an excerpt from his forthcoming summer 2023 book Little Big Moments, Andrew Taylor-Troutman reflects on the best dad gift.

It’s not another coffee mug. Get out of here with your shirts and ties. No right-minded person would even consider giving me a power tool. Cologne? Are you serious?

Whether the gift is for Christmas, Father’s Day, or my birthday, I always prefer to receive socks. Yes, socks — the wildest, wackiest, coolest socks.

I actually have socks that read “Here Comes Cool Dad.” I’ve been given other socks with pictures of goats and acoustic guitars. A yeti-like creature playing a guitar. Snowpeople playing guitar (a theme, yes). Socks with baseballs and footballs and fútbols. I received socks with a picture of my dog’s face emblazoned on them.

And the pièce de résistance — socks with a picture of a cat wearing sunglasses while flying through space … on a slice of pepperoni pizza!

Someday, it would be awesome if one of my kids knit socks for me. Or maybe created some with a 3D printer. Who knows? In the meantime, they search the internet with their mom.

I have socks with peace signs and Mister Rogers quotations. Smiley-face emojis and pink hearts. And tacos, which I like to sport on Tuesdays.

As a pastor, I own several pairs of nondescript black socks that I wear to most funerals, although recently I wore the peace sign socks in honor of one woman, and her widower loved it.

On Sundays, however, I wear the funky socks — “funky” in terms of the artwork, not the smell. Still, people have noticed. Maybe a few make comments behind my back, but it’s a welcoming church. Express yourself!

A young boy approached during a recent Sunday service and, grinning widely, hitched up the leg of his khakis to reveal socks with Chewbacca! I happened to be wearing my space-cat socks, which I gleefully showed him. Obviously, he was impressed.

This is a boy who, like many kids his age, will wear gym shorts, even if the wind chill is a smaller number than his age. But his mother convinced him to wear “church pants” by promising that he could wear his Chewbacca socks. And that I would be wearing funky socks, too!

She didn’t necessarily think that he would show off those socks during the worship service, but I certainly didn’t mind. In fact, his grin was the best present of that day. Quite possibly the holiest moment. We worship a “God who laughs and plays” according to the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart.

My kids know not to get me baseball caps or golf balls. No gardening or grilling tools. Gift cards are fine. But would I rather have a pair of wild and wacky socks? Does a cat fly through space on a slice of pizza?

Adapted from Little Big Moments by Andrew Taylor-Troutman. Copyright © 2023. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock.  All rights reserved.

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