Father’s Day came about through the efforts of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. After listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day, she thought fathers should be honored as well.
Although the first Father’s Day was held on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, it wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Milhous Nixon signed legislation designating the third Sunday in June for this holiday.
Conversely, Woodrow Wilson signed Mother’s Day back in 1914 so I suppose the Men’s Rights and machismoists may be up in arms, march on Wall Street this year regarding the glass ceiling on male celebrations.
But, what’s your favorite piece of advice from your father? Or, how do you pay tribute to Dad and his two cents? Did his words shape who you are?
Over the years I had contemplated giving ‘stuff’ to the men-folk in my life but I usually don’t on Father‘s Day. The media would suggest purchasing a tie, a gas grill, a hammer or a lazy-boy-chair — but most men I know have enough of all that.
King of the Pit
Some men stay away from the kitchen except to make their one signature dish, while others claim the gas grill or charcoal Weber as their home turf. Ol’ Pops is king of the open pit and perhaps it is his ticket to freedom (from the nag of the wife). He can drink beer without judgment and watch the odd female jogger as they jaunt along.
The grill may be worth it for some… it seems a concrete indication that we have reached a stage in life in the suburbs. After you purchase your grill god, I’ve seen many men take sidelong glances at their shiny machine. Sitting on the porch, beer in hand, stealing glances at it — wondering if their buddies have one as large. Many men are thinking that clean up is easy — quick tasty meals can be made on the grill in a jiffy, and it fills the neighborhood with the smell of summer.
Except at our house. We do not have a natural affinity for grilling outside. For shame, I know! It is not encoded in our DNA like most Minnesotans. My husband doesn’t drink anymore and there aren’t many joggers this neck of the woods. He likes burning stuff though and stacking wood; just not the grill thing. Not only that, but the kids don’t like the burnt carbon-like crunchy bits that ooze with carcinogens.
Plus, standing over a hot grill cooking for guests, giving your undivided attention as a host, are a hard tandem to keep. I can’t do it. And, I don’t expect dads to do it either. ‘Tis not a gift of luxury, only work in my books!
The French have a phrase for living in a deliberate way. They call it ‘savoir vivre’. How can men folk, with sweat pouring down over their hot pit, greet and serve guests, talk about the Vikings etc., without looking a mess, unhappy and somewhat sidetracked from the real purpose (entertaining guests). The TV ads surely disagree with my description!! They look so happy flippin‘ burgers and rollin‘ brats.
In my ignorance of yesteryear, I may have overlooked the ideal tie or a hammer that could have been a much better option for my father or husband. You won’t get a cozy leather chair from me either; that will make you lazy. I have a scraggly pleather one that I invite my husband to sit in when he looks tired; and voila, he just keeps working!
You told me lots…
The greatest memory of my own dad is not what he said. It is more the unspoken advice that he gave us by example. How he took care of my mother, for example. Ensuring she died with serenity and dignity. When you have a death sentence, one can be exacerbated by the nature of the condition.
He looked after my mother as if he just met her for the first time with all the unwavering, unconditional love, attention and care. He remains, at 84, a great in-side the house cook. Too rainy in Ireland for BBQ’s and if you want a burger, you go down to the “chipper.”
Selfless service before anything else. He lives as not a know-all either, he lives as if every year is a new discovery and that there is something always to embrace / uncover. He has the ability to do this quietly, always minding his own business -- but us children know.
My question to dads all over the country is ‘tell me more’ because for me, ‘stuff’ like ties and golf balls can be vapid / vacuous on Father’s Day. Maybe as a random act of kindness I’ll have the boys get Dad a vibrant tie 3 weeks from now or send my own father a set of MN golf-balls in May.
Whether your husband or dad cooks on that grill they acquired; whether we watch him use that linen monogram handkerchief we gave; or, whether we took him out to dinner or purchased him a special brew…the most important gift we can give, I think, is truly connecting with him.
Instead of nodding, agreeing, asking a bunch of questions that are irrelevant and irritating (I ask plenty of them) — agree to keep the relationship fresh and vibrant by listening (and maybe even wearing something swanky once again for no good reason for the hubby). Listening as if we are listening for the first time. We don’t often understand our own self; let alone the Fathers in our life. But alas, too often we feel that we already know what folks are thinking — we are already too close to notice...
The kind of listening that has no agenda, isn’t driven by ego, doesn’t have to have all the answers, and doesn’t have to fix everything. “Tell Me More” dad - husband - guy friend. This is very difficult for me and perhaps you as well, as we feel so busy in the head, active and want to get moving. Who has time to listen when we have so much to say!?!
However, I am aware that no matter how hard we try or how committed we are; relationships get tired and people drift if we aren’t careful. Life can seem tragic when all we know and work toward is self-related. But when we focus on the other, it really doesn’t matter (as much) if we’re here for another 5 years or another 50 -- we’ll simply selflessly serve / listen until we can no longer.
So yes, I need to forget about my own earthly impulses, listen more and just…enjoy the knowledge of life and ask that steady, seasoned leviathan out splittin‘ wood, “HEY HUN! TELL ME MORE!” (when you‘re done stackin’ that cord).