The myth of Father’s Day


When I was younger and in college, I forgot my dad’s birthday.

Chastised by my mother I rushed out and got him a crappy gift – fishing equipment – and presented it belatedly.

Thanks, but no thanks, said my dad, who had me return it.

It took having kids of my own to make me realize I wasn’t guilty of bad gifting but of forgetting.

It’s hard to forget Father’s Day; every advertisement mentions it, every store has sales. But anyone with kids of their own experiences the full sweep of a holiday like Father’s Day – from the stress, guilt and pressure of a son or daughter to get the perfect gift, to understanding the true value of things as an adult.

My grudge against Father’s Day may be rooted in the way that it falls outside the school year. Mothers Day is in May and Moms get handmade pasta shoeboxes sweated over in art class. Dads get Hallmark cards.

When I was a Cub Scout we made crucifixes out of burnt wooden matches for Mother’s Day that my mom kept until she died. I can’t remember anything I made or got for my dad.

Because my daughters were in year round day care, I did get homemade gifts when they were very young. One year it was a pen holder made out of a frozen orange juice container. I kept it on my desk for years.

But when they graduated to regular school, and because Father’s Day occurs during summer break, homemade, heartfelt gifts made of glue and construction paper, supervised by teachers, were no longer a thing.

And now that they are grown their love and safety are the only gifts I want or need.

And not just on Fathers Day. The trick isn’t not forgetting your father on Father’s Day.

The trick is not forgetting him the rest of the year.


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  • Ray Dustin

    A very heartfelt column and well said! I agree that the homemade gifts were so much better than any store bought ones no matter the occasion. Any time I have with my married daughter is more precious to me than any gift I could receive. Especially knowing that she wants to be there.

  • BlueSky90

    I get what you’re saying. A very interesting read. I am facing my first Father’s Day without my dad this year, and to be honest, I’m dreading it, because I loved my dad a lot. We were close, and even though the gifts when we were kids were bought by Mom, when I was older, I always made sure to give a card or, in the last few years that I’ve been living away from my hometown, called him, making sure it was in the evening after Mom & Dad had come home from volunteering to serve charcoal-grilled chicken and lefse & meatballs at the town’s annual festival. I think Dad appreciated those calls more than any card he could ever receive (though I was always praised for getting just the right hilarious card). He was a talker, a Packer fan, and was always interested in the state of my vehicle. Hallmark holidays don’t usually sit well with me, but this year, it’s just a reminder of the huge hole in my heart.

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