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One small box, one Super Dad

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Asked to condense a life into a box, what would you put in? That's the question my preschooler and I struggled with recently as we gathered things that remind him of his dad, to put in a keepsake box he would be decorating at school.

My little guy was joining schoolchildren around the country in that annual ritual of creating masterpieces to present to their dads on Father's Day.

In past years, my children had made gifts such as picture frames smothered in glitter that leaves a trail everywhere it goes, and painted cups that are even decorated along the drinking rim, ensuring that they will be eternally admired but never used.

But this year's project gave me pause. What objects would make my son think of his daddy?

Power tools wouldn't fit in the box, and we couldn't squeeze his office in there either. His favorite foods are duck and lamb, but the smell would be overpowering after a short time if we included them. Favorite books? It's hard to tell since he reads them only halfway through, and then abandons them in favor of the latest book someone has recommended about becoming a billionaire overnight or about how to get the most out of your life in five easy steps.

We finally settled on a fuzzy yellow ball to represent his tennis game and a hammer because he loves to build things such as the indomitable tree fort/minihouse he constructed in our backyard. We also threw in a baseball card for his love of the sport and because he coaches my older son's team. And we added a stack of photographs of my husband engaged in activities he enjoys – water-skiing, for instance, and snoozing on the couch.

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