For the past few weeks, the marketing machine has been hard at work convincing everyone to buy the “perfect” gift for Dad. Some of the more interesting and bizarre items I’ve seen hawked are beer-themed knee socks, a beef jerky bouquet, a toaster that does both bun and hot dog at the same time, a can koozie that is a miniature parka, and a spoon engraved with “cereal killer.”

Apparently, Amazon thinks that some dads crave office supplies such as fancy staplers or desk organizers that look like golf bags. Of course, you can find any number of T-shirts, coffee mugs and water bottles with punny slogans, dad jokes or the heartfelt “best dad ever.”

Got a gadget dad? There are apps and gadgets galore, and some of the gadgets even have their own gadgets. They range from electric wine openers, digital meat thermometers, digital tape measures to more digital devices that run all of your other devices.

Categories such as homey dad, bookish dad and handy dad have dozens of “bargains” and “just the right thing” to celebrate Father’s Day.

Now, I’m not knocking any of these gifts. Dads are worthy of our attention and appreciation. But sometimes, less is indeed more: a card made from macaroni and construction paper, the lukewarm child-made pancake breakfast in bed, hanging out in the back yard around the grill, letting him catch a nap while “watching” golf on TV.

Over the years, I gave my dad baked goods, his favorite scotch whiskey (with help from Mom), books of crossword puzzles, always a phone call if I wasn’t in the county, and dozens of silly cards.

Maybe the best gift I could ever give him, however, is that I learned from him, and even better, I retained a lot of it.

Col. Cox left us in 2007 but not a day goes by that I don’t think about or use some bit of wisdom he imparted.

How to change a tire. How to make the perfect martini – with lemon peel. “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.” How to test a steak for doneness. How to mix epoxy. Care and feeding of the 2-cycle lawn mower. How to find the North Star. Tips and tricks on solving crossword puzzles. How to float on my back. The differences between Renoir and Van Gogh, between “Moonlight Sonata” and “Malagueña.” There are so many more.

A few years ago, I needed some dad wisdom and discovered a popular YouTube channel called “Dad, How Do I?” The channel has 4.6 million subscribers and 220 videos so far. I found the channel when I was trying to get a stuck drywall screw out of a stud. It wouldn’t go in or out, even with the power drill.

Of course, I fell down the rabbit hole and watched a bunch of videos. It struck me as I watched his handy tips and dad advice that I was one of the lucky ones. I had an involved, present father, who knew things. In this world, not every dad learned this stuff, or was patient enough to teach, and not every father is involved or present. Sometimes, kids stop talking to their parents, and try as you might, they won’t or can’t listen to you.

In fact, Father’s Day can be difficult for many, fraught with mixed emotions of grief, sorrow, anger, pain or regret. The memories hurt. Or there are no memories at all. If you struggle with the day, for whatever reason, I see you and bid you the strength and serenity to get through it. You are not alone.

And that screw? I took a hacksaw to it, cutting it flush with the wall and then spackled over the spot. Lesson learned: at times, the solution involves power tools and at other times, spackle.

Jay Ann Cox, El Defensor Chieftain Editor