LEX CANIS THE Lee Berlin Andrea Brown
A Thankless Job Here’s to All the Great Dads Out There
If you ask me, Father’s Day doesn’t get a fair shake. Now, before you ask, I don’t have any kids of my own, so I assure you this isn’t a bid to win myself extra privileges on this special Sunday. But as the not-so-ceremonious holiday draws near, I can’t help but reflect on its utter lack of fanfare and how little we do for our dear old dads on the one day set aside to honor their sacrifices. I know celebrations when I was growing up were certainly lackluster. My dad was always one to discourage us spending money on him. So although my brothers and I would go all-out for our mother the month before, with all the candy and cards our arms could carry, all Dad would get is a card and a pat on the back. Sure, we would typically have a barbecue that day, but Dad did all the grilling! Looking back, we should have done more to let him have a day to relax, at the very least. Now, some may argue that because our father asked for us not to make a fuss about Father’s Day, we were just respecting his wishes. But how many of us would acquiesce our mothers if they asked us to not spend any time or money on them for Mother’s Day? Heaven help my brothers and me if we ever fell for that. The truth is that the parents who most deserve to be celebrated tend to be too accustomed to self-sacrifice. It can be hard for them to learn that it’s okay to put their feet up and be honored for one day a year. Dads are especially guilty of this, but that’s not an excuse to avoid giving them the day they deserve.
Cultural perceptions of fatherhood definitely play a role here. We’re used to treating dads as the stoic breadwinners and disciplinarians of the household. In turn, I think many dads internalize that role, thinking they don’t deserve more than just a day to watch golf. In truth, this self-sacrificing attitude goes back further than you might imagine. While we mostly think of Father’s Day as the time of year power tools go on sale, the celebration dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. Back then, it was known as St. Joseph’s Day, celebrating Jesus’ “legal” father and patron saint of dads everywhere. Of course, you don’t have to be Catholic to know that Joseph doesn’t exactly play a leading role in the Bible. Compared to all that is written about and done to honor St. Mary, her husband is little more than a background character. All we really know about him is that he was a carpenter, so perhaps those deals on power tools aren’t too far off the mark. Coincidentally, my dad’s name is Joseph, and while he isn’t a carpenter, he certainly tries to keep himself out of the spotlight. Whenever I ask him if he has plans for Father’s Day, his response is usually along the lines of, “I don’t know. Maybe your mom and I will walk around the block or something.” Dad, you deserve better. I want to be clear that I’m not arguing for any changes to Mother’s Day. That holiday is right at the level of appreciation I think it needs. What I’m calling for is making an effort to raise Father’s Day to be somewhere
on the same level as what we do for our mothers. Getting there will mean kids will have to learn to go that extra mile without being asked, and dads will have to learn to actually accept the honor and affection they deserve on their
special day. Being a great dad isn’t easy. The least we can do is show them that we see their sacrifices and appreciate them. Now, if you’re at a loss of what to get your old man beyond a new Makita drill set, might I suggest doing something most people just don’t do anymore? Send your dad a handwritten note. I know it seems simple, but if you really take the time to do it — I’m talking full paragraphs here — it will be one of the best gifts your father ever receives. My dad has told me my letters are, in his words, “worth so much more than a present.” This is a great way to circumvent the “don’t spend money on me” request while really showing your father you care.
Happy Father’s Day,
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