Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet.
(Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 37)
Almost 8 years ago I contemplated the role I had to play in my daughters’ lives to ensure the right balance between two priorities I had set for myself — to nurture in them both a Bahá’í and a Bulgarian identity — priorities clearly in contrast to today’s society’s direction. I had strived to make each interaction with my girls meaningful, regardless of the day it would take place, questioning at times the notion of Father’s Day as a singular event of import. But I am also practicing gratitude for the many gifts — deserved or not — I have been blessed with.
Earlier this week while on the phone with my younger one, Juliet, she told me that she is ready with my Father’s Day present. I asked her if she wanted to tell me what the present was or she’d prefer to keep it secret — she chose to keep it a surprise. However, on Wednesday, when I stopped by to give her and her sister a ride to their ice skating lesson, Juliet gave me the gift, beaming with love and pride.
I was so delighted, hugging her I told Juliet that my heart belongs to her and her sister Sofia, and to Bahá’u’lláh:
I wondered then what Sofia’s present might be, fully aware that even if it was just a hug I would be more than delighted. Then Friday night came and with it, the talent show at Sofia’s middle school. I was aware that her search for a meaningful contribution to the performance evolved from a pop song suggested by her mom, to the recitation of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets she knows by heart, but for whatever reason she chose to sing (and play on the ukulele I had given her for her 12th birthday) a song “I am a Bulgarian”, based on a poem by the patriarch of Bulgarian literature, Ivan Vazov.
When I shared the link to this video with Sofia’s mom, her response was: “That’s the best possible father’s day present to you…”