Sunday, June 20, 2010

When You Least Expect It: Father's Day Edition

Today, I wished my father a Happy Father's Day.

You probably did too.

Or maybe you sent your father a card. I might have sent a card, too, except Hallmark doesn't actually make a card that expresses just the right sentiment for me. In fairness to Hallmark, I didn't actually look; rather, I made an assumption that they don't make a card that says, "Happy Father's Day, it's kind of fun getting to know you after four decades." 

I sent my father an email, because, not having much practice with it, I pretty much suck at Father's Day. I knew enough not to get a tie, but since I live in the Pacific Northwest, where a typical male fashion statement involves socks worn with Birkenstocks*, ties aren't really part of the whole gift-giving culture. Although I might possibly have missed the tie counter at REI - which, as a purveyor of things like tents and backpacks, terrifies me.

When I was in elementary school, the other kids all made Father's Day gifts and cards. I know this because I could hear them whisper about it as the teacher sent me to another classroom to be a "helper" or some equally flimsy pretext. I could sense somehow that they were hiding their handmade cards in their backpacks like they had been told to do by the teacher, so that I wouldn't know and feel left out.

Also, my best friend told me this right after school.

My mother once tried to persuade me that as she was a single parent, she was both parents to me, and thus I should buy her a Father's Day gift. I admit there's a certain logic to it, but since it a) wasn't my own idea and b) struck me as vaguely mercenary, I declined. 

I wished my ex-husband a Happy Father's Day once, on behalf of our daughter, who was just a few months old at the time. I bought him a gift and took him out for brunch and within a year, we were talking only through our attorneys. I'm not sure the events are connected, but I'm also not sure they aren't: Being Dutch, he was endlessly baffled by and somewhat fearful of American holidays**.

Mostly, I have just ignored Father's Day, like I ignore Administrative Professionals Day and Left-Handers Day and International Tuba Day*** and a whole host of other holidays that, for one reason or another, simply Do Not Apply.

But today, I got to wish my own father a Happy Father's Day, my own way: An awkward but heartfelt message.

Maybe next year, I'll work my way up to a handmade card.

*hemp necklace optional.
**Halloween in particular scared the crap out of him: "Why do people dress their children up like zoo animals and send them begging for candy?"
***May 3. Look it up.

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