I hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving gift, from me to you. It’s called The Tie Pin. It’s a short story about a Father helping his son. We are blessed to have a Heavenly Father who plots our course each day. He doesn’t control us, instead, He enables us to make the right decisions. I hope you enjoy this story, as you journey through your day.
The Tie Pin
A tie pin an uncommon thing now. You don’t see many tie pins these days, or at least I hadn’t, until one special November. That was the day that everything changed for me. No, the tie pin didn’t change it, but it will always be connected to it.
I was sitting with Mom, trying to decide what to buy my Dad for his birthday. Dad’s birthday was the day before Thanksgiving. I was pitching ideas. “What about a baseball shirt?” “Eddie, you know that he doesn’t watch baseball any more. He lost interest after the famous strike.” “Ok, how about a fishing rod?”
Mom sighed, she knew as well as I did where this was going. My Dad wasn’t an outdoorsman. Oh, he took us fishing all the time as kids, but he hated it. He watched baseball with us, even though he was a basketball guy, because we loved it.
Don’t get me wrong, if I picked any of these things, he’d act ecstatic over them. Mom was different, she wanted to make sure that whatever we got Dad, it would be something that he liked. The trouble was, my Dad was hard to buy for. He wasn’t in to trinkets, he wasn’t in to sports.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have any interests, but I was taking the easy way out. Mom always said, “Do something for him, don’t just kill time around him. You boys do things with your Father, but you don’t really spend time with your Dad.” Mom expected us to talk, and that was hard!
We love our Dad, he’s great, but I never knew what to say to him, or to anyone else really. Johnny, on the other hand, always connected with everybody. They’re exactly alike, so it’s easy for him. Everybody used to laugh when I said that, but nobody ever tells me why until I was older. She laughed that morning.
Just then, Johnny walked into the room. He smiled at me, hugged Mom, and grabbed an orange. “Gotta run, meeting Ann to talk about the Wedding.” Johnny was 19, Ann was 20, they were crazy about each other. They were getting married the next month.
You’re probably thinking they’re pretty young, but between them they had the intelligence of 8 people. Both are geniuses who started a computer company in junior high school, and made it. Today, I work for them.
Mom and Dad weren’t poor, but our house, and two just like it, were worth less than Johnny made that year. Johnny tried to get Dad to let him buy us a new house, but Dad said no. “We’re doing ok, save it for a rainy day.”
I was 14, and couldn’t run a lemonade stand. I know, I tried two summers earlier, it went bankrupt. I spilled all the inventory. Anyway, Mom took me to the store to find something. That’s when I saw the tie clip. Mom thought I was crazy, “Trust me Mom, it’ll sing!” I used Dad’s signature phrase to sell it.
Anytime he wanted to sell Mom on something, he’d say, “Trust me June, it’ll sing!” Of course, then he would sing off key loudly, no matter where we were. Mom would agree, but she said it was mostly to shut him up, then she’d smile.
When I got home, I headed for my room. The front of the tie pin was a compass. I took the compass and attached it to a card. I started writing, what I couldn’t say out loud, seemed to come easy on paper. I added a twenty dollar bill that I had been saving for his birthday, and put it in my nightstand drawer.
The next morning was the big day. We all had Dad’s favorite breakfast, blackberry pancakes, hash browns, scrambled cheesy eggs, and bacon. After about three cups of coffee, we were ready for presents.
Johnny went first, he gave Dad a new tablet computer, which made me look like a cheap skate. I love my brother, and no, I’m not jealous of his money, it’s just that a rich brother makes your gifts look, well cheap! My sister, Kate gave him a sweater, that she made. Then, it was my turn, I gave him a card!
He made over it just the same. Dad’s eyes began to water about the same time he read the card. He didn’t read it out aloud, but he gave me the biggest hug I ever got from him.
“Come on Eddie, let’s go pick up the cake from the store.” Mom shook her head, “Eric, you don’t have to pick up your own cake.” “I need the exercise Gwen.” Before we hopped in the car and headed out, Dad went to change. He came out with a suit, a tie, and my tie pin. I thought we were just going to the store, I was wrong.
Dad didn’t say much until we pulled in the parking lot. I started to get out when he turned off the key, and he touched my arm for me to stop. “Eddie, I want to talk to you a minute.” “Sure Dad, what’s up.” It turns out, a lot was, I just didn’t know it.
“Son, that card and this compass tie pin you gave me today, are two of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten. My eyes weren’t watering, you made me cry. What you wrote was beautiful, it was some of the greatest words I’ve ever read. It did sing, like nothing else. What concerned me was the twenty dollars you added.”
I was puzzled, “Why Dad? I just wanted to make sure you knew how much I loved you.” He smiled, “Son, if I didn’t know before you wrote it, I did after. You see son, you are just like me. I’m not book smart like your brother, but I’ve got a pretty level head, so do you. Growing up, it was hard for me to talk about how I felt. It was also hard for me to trust that people cared about me for me.”
“As a result, I tried to hard. I loved your mother more than anything, but I had my doubts that she loved me. I wasn’t able to express myself through writing like you can. Because of my insecurity, I almost lost her, thankfully for all of us, your mother is stubborn!” I laughed when he said this, it’s still true!
“She helped me realize that people cared for me, not what I could do for them. She also helped me find my voice. My joke about something singing comes from her. She said once, ‘Eric, you have a lot of good to say. Take that bird over there, it doesn’t care how it sounds, it sings out anyway. Sing out until the rafters ring.’ She turned out to be right, and I overcame my fears. Ever since then, I’ve used that phrase.”
“Do you know why you picked the compass on that tie clip?” I shook my head, “You gave me a toy compass when I was five years old. I still have it.”
“Do you know why I gave that to you?” “No.” “It was meant to be a lesson, an early lesson, but a lesson. If you follow the right direction, you won’t have to second guess your course. Your mother and I have raised you three to love God, and to love people.”
“Don’t forget in the process, that God has put people around you, who love you for you. You don’t have to push them to love you. You also don’t have to force the words to come.”
“You couldn’t say what you wrote in that card, and that’s fine, but trust that your message came through. This twenty dollars doesn’t say I love you. It says I’m not sure my gift is good enough. Eddie, if you give with the right motive, from your heart, like you did. Then your gift is more than you could even realize. ”
“So what say, you take this twenty, and put it towards something fun.” He handed it back to me, and I did just that. Funny thing, I can’t remember what I bought that day. But 14 years later, I’ll never forget that tie pin.
Dad still wears it every time he wears a suit. My kids have all heard the story fifty times. They may get tired of hearing it, but I never will. That conversation shaped my future, it helped me stop second guessing a lot of things. Including, when the time was right, asking my now Wife, on our first date. It may have technically been the day before Thanksgiving, but I’ll always be thankful, for the lesson Dad taught me that day.
If you enjoyed this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org for the free ebook, “The Snowman’s Message”.