I’ve been sporting a somewhat new look lately.
Some have told me they like it, that “it looks good on ya'”
Others have asked “that your winter look?”
It’s a beard that I’ve had hanging around my face as of late, and I’m not quite sure whether or not to let it remain. It all started unintentionally. Over the course of the summer, I had gotten a cut of some sort on my face that the doctors thought had become infected. As it was healing, I was told by the doctors not to shave, for fear of cutting it open and starting the process all over again.
So I didn’t. And the hair grew, and grew and grew.
Now, I look a bit like I’m going to go in our backyard and chop wood. It’s a look and (sometimes itchy) feel I’ve not quite grown accustomed to over the years. With the exception of a ‘van dyke‘ (don’t mistakenly call it a goatee, I’m told) during some time in college, I’ve pretty much been a clean-shaven guy all my life. So now that all has healed and I can shave if I like, I’m not sure if I should.
Yes, I’ve gotten ‘good reviews’ so far from friends and family. But, this week, I got an opinion from my most brutally honest fan of all – our two year old son.
“No beard, dada! No beard!” he told me, firmly, then proceeding to try and wipe it or brush it off of my face.
“Me cut, dada! Me cut!”
If there’s one thing you can always count on amid the unpredictability of kids, it is that they will almost always speak the truth of what’s on their mind, what they think, in the most clear form possible.
If only we adults could do that.
Apparently, he does not approve, so we’ll have to see how long it sticks around.
Shave set – safety razor, badger brush, shave soap. If you’ve got the time and the money, you can either piece a set together yourself, finding a nice metal safety razor, a badger brush (less harsh on the skin) and some shave soap to create that lather. If you’d rather let someone else do the work, check out artofshaving.com and all the various gift sets they make for the stubbly dad.
If you’re in a pinch and it’s last minute, don’t fret; you can still pull this one off. Head to your local drug store or supermarket and head to the grooming aisle. Many carry a small boxed set with razor, brush, soap and a small dish for your soap, and it’s all very inexpensive. Just a note about those in the grocery or drug store – the brush will likely be boar’s hair, which may not be as great as badger hair, but it will still seem mighty impressive when dad unwraps it.
A nice book – this can be of any genre, topic, whatever may interest dear old dad. Whether it’s a nice-looking reprint of a Dickens’ novel, a freshly printed copy of Hamlet for the theatrical dad, a crime or war novel, or just a nice, bound collection of comics for the super-heroic dad, this is a great gift. Books look good on Dad’s shelf, be they at home or in the office, and can offer a nice escape throughout the year. I often tell people you can’t go wrong getting me a book or graphic novel when asked about gifts.
The experience gift – whether it be tickets to a sports game, a massage at the end of a busy work schedule, or a hot air balloon ride, these are usually the types of things you can find at a company’s website and print off right on your home computer, making them easy and convenient to get hold of at the last minute.
Anything handmade – If the children haven’t come up with anything to give dear old dad yet, sit them down and brainstorm some ideas of what they would like to make for him. It could be as simple as a hand-scribbled or fingerpainted card from the little ones to a popsicle stick box for dad’s watch and wallet, or a bit more extensive with a trip to a craft store to decoupage a plain item or frame some kid photography to add some decoration to dad’s office.
And these are just a few, quick suggestions in the hopes it may help someone out, somewhere. Just remember that not matter what you choose to do, there is truth in the old adage that it is the thought behind it that counts. The thought behind whatever you give or express to your father, as long as it’s true, as long as it was thought about, that will be as cherished as anything he receives.
One of the finest Christmas presents I’ve ever received in my adult life was a few years ago when my wife gave me my very own shaving kit that she assembled.
There were no cheap, disposable razors in here. No, no. In the set was a nice, chrome stand that held a badger-hair shaving brush (as hog hair, which are used in most of the shave brushes you find in general stores these days, is a bit too harsh), some shaving soaps to create a lather with the brush, and the piece de resistance – a safety razor.
Never has shaving felt like a finer ritual than with these tools at the ready on our bathroom sink.
I once read someone say something akin to “you haven’t shaved if you haven’t done so like your grandpa did back in the day” and boy, were they right.
I don’t shave every day as my current job doesn’t require me to like the last one did (and even then, I admit occasionally cheating at the office with an electric one at the last minute). I now shave when I feel that the stubble is getting a bit uncomfortable (usually twice a week or so) and when I do, it’s a great experience all thanks to this nice little, thoughtful and very timeless gift.
Some hot water to the face gets the bristles ready and it’s really something to see the lather appear as you spin the brush around the bowl over the shaving soap. There’s all sorts of soaps out there, but my wife went the extra mile and found homemade shave soaps online made from natural materials as opposed to chemicals, which I truly appreciate. Lather it on with the brush generously, then keep that hot water flowing to run the razor under.
I really can’t say enough of just how zen a feeling it can be to stand in front of the mirror, gliding the hot blade of the safety razor across my cheek, wiping away that shave soap lather and the hair along with it.
Put some music on while you do so and you really have a ritual.
I will add, merely as a side note, that when I began shaving this way, it was with a blade made in Germany, versus the blade I’m currently using which was made in Japan. It could just happen to be this particular blade I’m using now, but I find myself getting a few nicks with this one. With the original blade made in Germany, I never got a single nick.
One day I’ll have to teach my little guy how to shave and when we do, I hope we’ll be doing so with these very same tools. There’s something timeless about them, as is knowing that you’re carrying on a method and tradition that has been around for generations prior.