Father's Day: First, Family, and Flowers
Is Father's Day number 1?
Father's Day is probably the most difficult holiday in the calendar. Not because it's controversial or obscure or too commercialized. It's difficult for two reasons.
To begin, even with those 'family values' and 'traditional definition' issues being such hot political topics, it seems difficult in this day and age for us to figure out exactly what fatherhood is supposed to entail.
We can go back to the original Father of Father's day for a clue. In the traditional Christian calendar, fathers were often honoured on St. Joseph's feast day (March 19th). However, a woman named Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, inspired by Anna Jarvis's campaign to have mothers celebrated on an official Mother's Day, decided that in honour of her own father, she wanted to establish a corresponding holiday to commemmorate fathers. William Jackson Smart was a veteran of the American Civil War whose wife died giving birth to their sixth child. Smart raised the large family as a single parent, and Sonora wanted to acknowledge the courage, selflessness, protectiveness, and love that her father had shown his family. The first Father's Day was celebrated in June of 1910.
The most difficult thing about Father's Day
Of course, the redefining of the father's role in today's shifting family dynamic is difficult enough. However, the perennial problem with Father's Day makes that challenge pale by comparison: what in the world do you do for Father's Day?
What can you get Dad that:
- won't collect dust on a shelf or clutter up a dresser or become an unrecognizable antique in the garage or spare room?
- will actually be appreciated or used the day after it's given?
- isn't something Dad hasn't already bought for himself?
- all of the above?
Moms are so much easier aren't they? Just invite the whole family over for a 5 course meal, do all the cooking and all the cleaning and let her sit back and enjoy the company without having to do any of the hosting duties. Send her out for a day at the spa. Find her favourite photographs of the kids, frame them, and hang them in a place of honour.
But Dads? It can be relatively safe if Dad is a hobbyist, a technophile, sports junkie, or home theatre nut: just get him a car for his train set, a new computer gadget, a couple of tickets to the game, or the latest DVD. Even so, do any of these really show our fathers that we appreciate their sacrifices and heroism, their strengths and their weaknesses?
Flowers for Father
There are alternatives to those types of gifts. How about plants and flowers? Not something that one usually associates with Father's Day, but maybe for that reason, flowers would be an ideal gift for that Dad who has everything else.
Believe it or not, there are masculine plants and flowers, plants and flowers that can symbolise the very things that we've decided are paternal qualities. Take the sunflower, for example--big and strong, its bright face like the light of hope in a dark place. Or how about the ivy--protective, stable, and consistent. Violets have long been associated with fidelity and trust as well as with sacrifice and devotion.
Maybe it doesn't really matter that it's difficult, as long as we have an opportunity to express how important our fathers are to us.