Food, fat, and comedy are some of the words that Jim Gaffigan identifies with. He has built his humble comedic empire on these three things. Whether it’s bacon, Hot Pockets, or McDonald’s, they all have a place in Jim Gaffigan’s routine and his stomach. But Gaffigan is not just a fat comedian who loves food. He is also a profound witness to fatherhood.
Perhaps the most compelling witness Jim Gaffigan gives to fatherhood is that he’s a father. His witness is especially strong in America, where the birthrate has been steadily declining for years. In a 2013 Time Magazine article titled “The Childfree Life,” the author reports that more and more Americans are finding fulfillment in opting to pursue careers over the pursuit of a family. Jim Gaffigan stands as a sign of contradiction to this recent trend in American culture. He and his wife have five children. And in his book Dad Is Fat, Gaffigan explains why he has so many:
“Well, why not? I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money? A few more hours of sleep? A more peaceful meal? More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy. Each one of them has been a pump of light into my shriveled black heart. I would trade money, sleep, or hair for a smile from one of my children in a heartbeat. Well, it depends on how much hair.”
Gaffigan’s children have made him a better man. And who doesn’t want to be better?
Another witness Jim Gaffigan offers to fatherhood is his willingness to be present in the lives of his children. In his latest television endeavor The Jim Gaffigan Show, Gaffigan portrays his real life in New York City with his wife and their five children. Throughout the show Gaffigan can be seen taking his children to the park, spending time with them at home, and putting them into bed at night. In all of these situations Gaffigan is present to his children. In an address given during a general audience, Pope Francis said, “The first need…is precisely this: that a father be present in the family…And that he be close to his children as they grow.” Gaffigan embodies the words of Pope Francis. He actively participates in the lives of his children, and he portrays this on his television show. In one particular episode, Gaffigan is sitting on the couch eating one of his children’s left over ice cream bars while all five children lay sleeping around him. Although Gaffigan is indulging his appetite with a stolen treat, his children know exactly where he is. How many children complain about not seeing their father because he is always at work? The Gaffigan children know who their father is and have a relationship with him because he is an active part of their lives. Whether they are attending birthday parties, going to the park, or getting ready for bed, their father is consistently there. The witness of their father affirms their dignity, because they know that their father cares for them and has made them a priority.
Jim Gaffigan’s success as a comedian has not distracted him from being a father. Although he is not perfect, he is still a father who has made his children a priority. They have made him a better man and as result, have made him a premier role model for fatherhood in the American culture. Through his willing embrace of fatherhood, Gaffigan reminds all men that having children and being present to them is a great way to spend one’s life. Fatherhood is not something to be feared but something to be embraced.
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