When it comes to expressing affection and appreciation for her father, this writer believes that no physical gift can be as meaningful as a written message with her heartfelt thoughts is

My father, Percy Shroff, was among the first Shroffs to be born in Japan. He grew up with an incredibly supportive father figure, who left India in 1920 to do trade in Shanghai and later made his way to Kobe after World War II. 

My grandfather was—as I remembered him—a gentle old man, with an unlimited supply of Polo mints in his pocket and the silent, quiet strength of someone who had been through hardship one couldn’t imagine. 

He passed his gentle yet strong character on to my father, who, at the same time, is also very passionate about the little things in life. It’s my dad who taught me how to ride a bike, enjoy all kinds of foods, express love and value the small moments in our day.

He made my Halloween costumes from scratch, he watched The Little Mermaid every weekend with my sister and I. These memories that I hold dear in my heart cost not one single cent. They were about activities we did together—arts and crafts, rollerblading and so on—and hugs and cuddles that fill my mind and heart. The most important thing he taught us, however, was to place the family unit above all else.

I am fortunate enough to have learnt so much from my father—particularly to cherish what is important and sacred in life, and how best to show affection and love. To this day, my father still keeps the drawings and letters I made and wrote as a kid, the emails I wrote to him when I was in college, and all the birthday messages I sent him. He stores them in folders stacked neatly in his office. 

Related: Father’s Day 2021: How to Celebrate with Dad at Home in Singapore

Many people today will think that being sent an expensive floral bouquet composed of exotic blooms flown overnight from Amsterdam—or some other costly, showy gift—is a big display of love. We are constantly being led to think—by the media or advertising—that gifting a loved one with a material item is the best way to demonstrate affection. 

I am not saying that I don’t enjoy receiving gifts or flowers (which I do), but there are many other “gifts” that can make a deeper, more meaningful impact. It’s something I learnt from my father and will pass on to my children. Expressing what and how you feel towards someone in words is actually the greatest gift you can present a partner, family member or dear friend.

This Father’s Day, if you want to step outside your comfort zone, be a little brave and start to think of all the reasons you love or appreciate your father and put them down in a card or letter. 

I tasked my kids to write down 43 reasons why they love their dad (he’s 43 years old, that’s why) and the results were so heartwarming. From coming home for dinner, to taking them bike-riding and sending them to a great school—the reasons they came up with aren’t material, but so heartfelt, coming from the viewpoints of two little children who adore their dad. 

It would be easy to encourage them to shop for a physical gift for him, but how meaningful will that be in comparison? I doubt my husband will be as deeply touched as when he sees those words our children have penned for him on paper.

Related: Father’s Day 2021: 12 Best Beauty and Wellness Gifts For Dad

When you encourage children to start expressing their feelings, write letters of gratitude and thank people around them, it has a ripple effect on others. The recipients of those letters will feel good and are more likely to spread kindness and love onwards to other people. 

As the world grapples with restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and many of us are unable to gather with those we love, I encourage you to make this Father’s Day count by being generous with your words. Be specific when you thank or compliment your father, and if you are lucky enough to be with your father this year, give him a hug and squeeze him just a little harder. 

Related: Father’s Day 2021: The Best Menus for Delivery in Singapore

Shireena Shroff Manchharam is a certified life and happiness coach with her own practice, Sheens Image Consulting. Her passion is in helping individuals reach their highest potential and she is always on a mission to bring happiness to people’s lives. Her husband, Ashish, and two kids—Lara and Arian—and her pet dog, Bowen, are her constant source of love and happiness. 

This is the eleventh in a series by Shireena Shroff Manchharam on mindfulness and gratitude.