Yesterday was Father’s Day, and unfortunately I was not able to be home to celebrate with my own Dad. I know he had a great day with my brothers, but since this was the first year I haven’t been home for the holiday it was bittersweet for me.
I grew up with an amazing dad who set an incredible example for how to live my life. He taught me a ton of lessons growing up…but here are some of my favorites.
1. Everything is worth saving
My friends fondly call this life rule the “Demerjian Way.” In our fridge at home, there are ALWAYS little clumps of aluminum foil with scraps of food in them that we refuse to throw away. We freeze or eat leftovers, creatively, until they are gone and almost never toss them out. My dad grew up in a much more frugal time, but I am so glad that he instilled the idea that wastefulness is bad to my brothers and me.
Now, I still save everything down to the final drop. If I don’t eat half of my sandwich at a restaurant I always box the other half for later. If my shampoo bottle is running low, I flip it over and squeeze out every drop before throwing it away. I haven’t quite gotten to my dad’s level of cutting bottles in half and using a spatula to save each drop, but maybe someday…
2. Sing it loud, sing it proud
At least once a day when I’m home, I can hear my dad yelling a line from some obscure song that nobody knows. He belts them out at the top of his lungs, and even though they usually don’t make sense they always brighten my mood. (Personal favorites: “500 miles,” and “Don’t Cry for me Argentina”.)
I also really enjoy singing, and often find myself quietly singing as I’m making dinner or getting work done. I may not sing as loud or obscure-ly as dad, but I do enjoy the fun it brings to a mundane day.
3. Always say “thank you”
This was a big one for me growing up. There were times that I got in trouble for having a bad attitude and not appreciating the endless hours my parents spent driving me to practices and school, making meals, or attending my events. But I learned from this and trained myself to thank people constantly.
Thanking anybody for anything they do for me has really impacted my life. A simple “thank you” can make somebody’s day, and make them realize that their act, no matter how small, is genuinely appreciated. Great manners are something that I hope I can pass to my children as effectively as my dad passed on to us.
4. Chips and salsa constitutes a real meal
My family is absolutely addicted to Mexican food. But every time we go out for some, we always fill up on the chips and salsa before the meal even comes. Sometimes for lunch we even just sit around the island and eat chips and salsa, guacamole, nachos, and other munchies (but I swear we eat healthy sometimes, too).
The memories I have of my family and I eating chips and salsa together are endless. It may sound silly, but this “meal” will forever have a special place in my heart.
5. Try everything at least once
My dad is the best example I’ve seen of this. He lives an incredibly active lifestyle and is always trying new things. Not many parents are into golf, sushi, boating, Family Guy, skiing, cooking, zip-lining, biking, brewing their own beer, cliff jumping, reading, and almost anything else I can think of, but my dad is because he is willing to try out anything. And, he usually finds that he likes it.
This has given me the encouragement to make sure I am always trying new things. I get easily frightened with extreme things, like cliff jumping or floating the river, but this reminds me that everything is worth trying once. Without this lesson, I already would have missed out on a ton of experiences in my life.
6. How to act at parties
My dad always cracks me up when we’re in large groups or parties. He doesn’t remember names well (something I have trouble with too), so whenever we are headed to a social setting he makes sure he figures out everyone’s names before we head inside. He also tells my brothers and me to “think of conversation topics” appropriate for whatever type of event we’re going to.
While I am not as relaxed and funny at telling stories like my dad is in groups, he has taught me to always mentally prepare myself for party-settings. I come with conversation topics prepared, and always try my best to remember everyone’s names.
7. A good chef always cleans up and looks ahead
It really surprises people that my dad genuinely loves to cook and bake. He has perfected his own secret (and killer) recipe for banana bread, and homemade-pizza night is always something my brothers and I look forward to.
Cooking with him over the years has taught me to be a prepared and considerate chef. He always cleans up his own mess and encourages me to do the same as we go along with a recipe (so the entire clean-up doesn’t happen at the end). He also makes sure I am looking ahead at a recipe so that I am prepared for what comes next. These may seem like two little lessons, but I will forever remember them in the kitchen.
8. The Lo-Po Lifestyle
“Lo-Po” is my dad’s special diet of “low portions.” I have always told him he should patent it and become the next Atkins, but he prefers to keep it a family idea. It’s the real life form of “everything in moderation,” and has helped my dad stay in-shape at every age.
I personally struggle with the “lo-po” lifestyle – I prefer to eat a larger portion of healthier foods so that I get fuller. But my dad’s adoption of has shown me how to incorporate healthy eating into my life. He really has impressed and inspired me with how in-shape he has always been, and I hope that I can be like him when I am older, too.
9. Take some “you” time
Everyday around 5:00pm, rain or shine, my dad can be found in the backyard with a beer and a bowl of peanuts (a small bowl, of course). Growing up, I thought this was silly and I often annoyingly interrupted this ritual. But, over the years, I have learned that this is my dad’s “me” time, and his way to unwind after the day.
I have always been horrible at taking time for myself and usually end up stressed and overwhelmed instead. But my dad’s beer-and-peanuts hour of serenity reminds me that I need to take a break every now and then to focus on myself.
10. Always keep moving forward
My dad has overcome more things in his life than anybody I have ever met. During my lifetime, I have seen him deal with things and push forward with life in a better way than I could ever hope to, and I know that he has overcome much more than I have been around for.
He has taught me to never give up and to always push for what I want. If something doesn’t work out, if I lose something, or if I fail, I have to keep going. He has made me strive to live my life with passion and enthusiasm and remember that it always continues on. Of all the amazing and fun lessons I’ve gotten from Dad, this one will stay with me forever.