Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers and families and fairies

In case you missed all the signs in the stores, the sappy (or funny) television commercials, the reminders on the radio or Google's doodle of the day, today is Fathers' Day.  There is controversy over who is to get credit for the first Fathers' Day, but we can pretty well agree that it came after the first Mothers' Day.  Woodrow Wilson was the first President of the United States to actually declare it a holiday.  Fathers around the country were honored for one day for all that they do all year long.  Children knelt at the knees of their fathers and basked in his wonderfulness.  And then the retail industry got involved. 

Personally I loathe these Hallmark holidays.  It's like someone had the bright idea that we would give dad a special day wherein we buy him lots of (sometimes useless and often times cheap) things like ties, aftershave, soap-on-a-rope, and rotary saws which will go unused, become dusty or slice a finger off.  (By the way all those things happened to my dad and his gifts when I was a child.)  Fathers don't have to cook, do the lawn, or wash the car on this one Sunday of the year.  They can sit in front of the television and hope there is at least a baseball game on.  Who thought that the middle of summer was a good time for Fathers' Day?  Hockey and basketball are over, Football won't begin any time soon and baseball is just getting started.  There isn't much exciting going on sports-wise.  (No, do not mention golf.  That is the. Worst. Sport to watch on television, much less in person.)  Where I live it is already too hot to go outside and do anything really fun (our heat index today is supposed to be over 105°F).  Which boils down to aside from a card and some "OMG I need to buy dad something" gifts, today is pretty much like any other day.  Except it is Fathers' Day.  Like that is supposed to mean something.

In the Judeo-Christian scriptures it says to "Honor thy mother and father."  It doesn't say to "Honor thy mother and father on one appointed day of the year."  Nope.  It just says honor.  Perhaps if we honored our parents more throughout the year we wouldn't have this need that we need to do something special one day out of the year to make them feel like we care about them.  We wouldn't have to single them out for the work that they are doing all year. 

Now granted many of us have dysfunctional families.  Some of us have not just dysfunctional families but ones that are so broken and hurt that they resemble a jigsaw puzzle where the dog has chewed on a few of the pieces so they will never fit together correctly again. My own family (that being my parents and siblings) are more like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces missing (I'm afraid the dog might spit them out later, but that has yet to be verified.  My baby brother could be hiding them in his pocket so he can be the one to put the last pieces on the board and thus "win" at the family puzzle.)  My created family (that being my spouse and three children (and four cats and one hamster and a tiny elephant named Tippy)) are more like a new box of puzzle pieces.  All the pieces are there and we even have the border built now and most of the fun parts are done, we are just working our way through all the sky.  There are a few pieces that fell on the floor and the cat batted around so they are dusty and one one has a little crease on the corner, but they all fit.  I like how we have worked together.  We are comfortable with each other and like being together. 

One of the things that we have done has been to basically ignore Hallmark holidays.  We don't really celebrate Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day and Valentine's Day.  Why?  Aren't we supposed to honor and love each other all year?  Does it really prove we love someone when we buy them flowers or boxes of chocolates or soaps-on-a-rope just because some industry said we should?  We joke in our family that we have a Valentine Fairy.  She comes on February 15th bearing clearance chocolates.  (She's almost as closely loved as the Easter Fairy who comes bearing clearance candies and 25¢ egg dying kits which is then used to dye fabric and yarn.)  We generally greet each other on those "special days" and give each other a kiss.  However, that is how we begin most of our days.  "Good morning.  I love you." Smooch. Smooch.

And that is how I think it should be.  Honor each other every day.  Honor your mother.  Honor your father.  Honor your lover.  Honor your friends.  Honor your family.  Respect each other.  Be good to each other.  Love each other.  And then we don't need to feel that we should go out and purchase stuff.  Stuff. Stuff. Stuff.  I really don't like stuff.  I want relationships that work and people I love surrounding me.  Not just on the third Sunday in June, but every day.  Now go be good to each other.

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