We love holidays around here. There’s usually so much light-heartedness and goodness and almost always – a reason for food.

But this week with the coming holiday, conversations and feels were different. Our team stood around in a circle trying to figure out how we’d celebrate Father’s Day on the blog and show love to the men who have helped shape our lives. We talked. And talked some more. Chats around the office were good; many of them heartwarming with sweet tales of stand-up dads and heroes and first loves. But others were… complicated.

And please know this: we wouldn’t dare diminish the significance and beauty of Father’s Day and all the stories of those who have done incredible jobs at showing up for their children and families. You are so deeply admired and cherished for your love.

But in the spirit of truth and transparency, we’re sharing what’s real for us, today. We each answered the same three questions about Father’s Day. We opened our hearts and dove in to the truth of our own stories.

So, here they are.

CHRIS

What does Father’s Day feel like for you?
Oh, Father’s Day. ALL THE DEEP SIGHS.

It is a hard day for me. It feels like longing and regret and far too many things unsaid.

My father is alive and I’m grateful for that. For many years of my childhood and adolescence, he was everything I adored. He gave me an army of siblings, and a full childhood; military-style discipline and lessons that I will never forget. I will always, always honor him for that.

But things changed. He left and things went wonky.  There are so many details of the story that could read a la War and Peace, so I’ll spare the saga. But, we don’t speak much. I wish things were different and that I felt more sure of things with him. I’ll just say this, mourning a relationship that has so much possibility is the hardest thing. You never outgrow wanting to be pursued by the man you loved first.

I have hope, though. Though there are many miles and missed moments between us, I know there is love there…somewhere. And neither of us is perfect and we could both try harder. But I believe that as long as we’re here, we still have a chance.

How do you acknowledge and honor those feelings?
I write them all down.  All the things I want to say live somewhere on a page. I haven’t mustered the courage to share them yet, but acknowledging them has been step one. I also pray for him. You can’t really nurture bitterness when you open your heart in that way toward someone. So, that helps.

If you could share one thing with your father today, what would that be?
I love you. Let’s try.

 LESLIE

What does Father’s Day feel like for you?
My dad lives up the road with my mom, so Father’s Day usually means brunch (we love a great meal) or a special treat at a fancy place. With my husband and two boys in tow, we look forward to gathering all together with my sister and celebrating family. We exchange cards rather than sharing a lot of sentiments, as tender emotions often overwhelm. So we usually keep it pretty light. Like his dad before him, when asked what he’d want for Father’s Day, my dad typically responds, “Oh, just get me a couple of handkerchiefs.” It’s been a running joke for decades.

How do you acknowledge and honor those feelings?
I love my dad and have tremendous respect for him. He’s a deep well and always has supported me and cheered me on. Probably, though, I think we have feelings that are yet to be shared. What’s been amazing over the years is seeing the levels and depths to my dad and I look forward to how we’ll continue to get know, love, and appreciate one another in new seasons of life.

If you could share one thing with your father today, what would that be?
I am so grateful for all that you’ve taught me along the way and how you’re pouring into giving my boys new opportunities for new experiences. Teaching me how to change a tire before I could get my driver’s license. Encouraging me (and funding) my high school summer in Switzerland to experience another culture. Supporting the launch of my consulting business. Inviting us to join you on vacations to relish in the beauty of the mountains or beaches. Creating your Music CD Lending Library to expose us to a vast array of music styles. You’ve encouraged us to learn, think, taste, and try. What a gift.

SUSAN

What does Father’s Day feel like for you?
My father died suddenly twelve-and-a-half years ago—the very day I was offered my job here. (He heard about that and was pretty excited about it, btw.) He had a number of health issues, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it was still a shock. Then a couple of days later, as I was driving home from picking up his belongings at the nursing home where he spent his last years, I got a phone call telling me that my brother had been killed in a head-on collision. So Father’s Day brings up a lot of memories and emotions.

How do you acknowledge and honor those feelings?
On Father’s Day I like to take my father’s Bible to church with me. Just holding and reading the book that meant so much to him means a lot to me.  He was a pastor, so it has a lot of notes and marks and a copy of the Lord’s Prayer pasted in the front, which always makes me smile. He entered the ministry later in life and the first time he had to lead a congregation in that prayer he completely blanked out about halfway through and sort of mumbled to a stop. The entire church followed his lead. An awkward silence filled the room before he desperately muttered a few words followed by “Amen.” He kept a “cheat sheet” in his Bible from that day on.

If you could share one thing with your father today, what would that be?
You did it. It was hard and messy and occasionally downright ugly but you kept your faith and hope to the end. Thank you for showing me how.