I’m not much for holidays. I’m not even the biggest fan of doing a whole lot for my birthday. Best birthdays I’ve had were spent doing nothing but a little relaxing. Best I’ve had in 10 years was getting stuck in a house on the Jersey Shore for a long, rainy weekend. Got to sit around and read every day. It was terrific.
But back to holidays. I mention this because this weekend is Father’s Day. It’s pretty easy to be skeptical about Father’s Day. Even though I’m a dad, I have a hard time shaking the fact that it’s really another one of those holidays cooked up by Hallmark to sell more cards. And honestly, men don’t really like cards. We don’t ever think about buying cards and we never consider giving them either.
But there’s no opting out of Father’s Day. To do so is to admit a level of deep antisocial behavior that will definitely put you out with the family. No. It’s time to suck it up and get a card.
So instead of a cranky dissertation on the absurdity and shallowness of our consumer culture, I should consider the benefit of holidays. Father’s Day isn’t about getting another tie for dad (does anyone wear ties anymore?) but perhaps about taking a little time to just consider the fact that you have a dad and what that means. As we forge ahead into the 21st century, we seem to still harbor a lot of 20th-century ideas about dad.
Aisles in card stores will be filled with the usual dad stuff – jokes about dad playing golf and mowing the lawn, fixing the family car and so forth. Being a dad has a whole mythology that comes with it: Dad as a stoic, mister fix it with a habit of spending his free time either watching sports or on the links with a set of his own clubs. So fetch my pipe and slippers; the ball game’s about to start.
None of these cards ever really did any good for my dad. When he wasn’t working as an electrician, he was working to fix something in or around the house. He generally believed that playing sports as an adult was a colossal waste of time. If he ever played a round of golf, I’ve never once heard about it.
These days, those old tropes about dads are even further off the mark. Sure, dads still like their leisure time, but they do a lot more than golf. Dads also spend a lot more time with their kids. These days, it’s not unusual to see dads pushing toddlers around in expensive strollers. Some dads are staying home with the kids while Mom goes to work. At my daughters bus stop, two thirds of the parents are dads.
So what does it all mean? Well, dads are just as important now as they were then. In a lot of ways they are more important. I’m not saying they are better in any way, but they are certainly diversifying their responsibilities. And it’s about time, too.
Still, as much as things change, dads are still important. When they do what they’re supposed to do, they do their best to provide guidance and support. My dad was always a great dad, no matter how busy. If his kids needed him he was there. No question about it. What more can you ask for?
So yeah, no matter how much we (or maybe I’m alone, here) grumble about the pointlessness of holidays, dad deserves at least one day of recognition a year (in all honesty, I’m of the opinion that moms deserve at least one day a month, but that’s a different column). And he deserves more than a card. Perhaps that tie with the light-up Miller High Life sign will work just fine. Dad’s do like ties after all.
Happy Father’s Day.