I just thought of something as I was driving home as a suggestion for the Deacons, and exclusively for Deacons.
We used to have a day that we would set a side for a "Father/Son type day" with our priest and the deacons. If he is father then we are sons. We have, as deacons, a very special relationship with a given priest or priests of the church. They do so much for us, and yet they, in some cases, some instances, are taken for granted. Many times we do not put ourselves in their shoes, troubles, anxieties, difficulties, and maladies. They neglect themselves, in sacrifice, for the entire church.
If you think about it, liturgically, he says something and we respond. We are the first calling after the priest's words.
They are special. They are a gift from God to us. They are there to remind us that although the Lord has left and ascended to the Father, He (Our Master) grants us shepherds to lead and guide us; to nurture and uphold us; to comfort and save us; and to love us when sometimes no one else will; to seek us out and to help us in the path of repentance. I cannot think of a better definition of "father". My priest is always that way.
I offer up a suggestion and a challenge: Pick a day in conjunction with your priest or priests of your church. Make it exclusive for the deacons and the priest. Find a nice restaurant. Chip in some money and have a good meal together. Let him feel that this day was set aside just for him. There should be no distractions. Have good hearty conversation. Serenade him with good hymns. He is not going to have "For he's a jolly good fellow...", but there are many good chants and hymns that can be offered. Let the people in the restaurant hear that our priests are special, and their children care about him. Let them know that in the Coptic Orthodox Church, our priests are loved, respected, and appreciated by their children.
Sometimes when we had extra money we would get him a present or something. In times when money was tight, it was just nice to be out with your "dad" from the church. A couple of good jokes would not hurt (in good taste of course). It really would be a nice distraction.
I would hope that a gang of guys would go pick him up from his house so that he does not have to drive to his own appreciation day. Call it whatever you want as a day. It does not have to be a surprise. Just do it. PLEASE.
The priests we have are good people. Good men with a special mission. I hope that the suggestion clicks and it finds a way to fruition in the given churches where everyone is stationed.
May God preserve our priests for us. May God preserve the life of our High Priest, Pope Shenouda III--the father to our fathers, and father to all that are in the Coptic Orthodox Church.
--Sorry for rambling. I was just very gripped by my memories as I was driving home tonight.