This time of year is bittersweet for my siblings and I.
After losing our Dad three years ago, Father’s Day has become somewhat of a sad holiday instead of one we looked forward to. Dad loved spending time with us on Father’s Day, even if it meant just sitting in his backyard with a couple of beers and reciting lines from Ace Ventura.
The ‘first’ Father’s Day was hard, the second was a little less painful. I’m sure this one will be a little less again, but it’ll never reach a point where it passes and I don’t feel a twinge in my heart.
The first year he was gone, I chose to run in a Father’s Day race in support of prostate cancer research. Two years before, my father-in-law had been diagnosed with – and beat – the disease so I was motivated to support the cause that had given us more time with him in hopes of helping others. Plus, running helped expend the energy I would have inevitably spent crying balled up on the couch feeling sorry for myself.
At the race, I was envious of the girls young and old who were either running with their Dads or finished the race with an embrace as their proud Pops waited at the finish line. I distinctly remember watching a girl a few years older than I speed towards the finish line and into the arms of her Dad. With tears in his eyes, he kissed her cheek and thanked her. The back of her shirt said he was a survivor of the disease. I was sure this was a moment they’d remember forever.
My father-in-law remarked how proud he was I had taken the time to run in the race in his honour and raise awareness for the disease. I didn’t buy him anything that year – I had simply given my time to do something meaningful for him.
Apparently the gift of time is no longer good enough.
I heard an ad on the radio this morning, targeted at kids, that said something along the lines of ‘Dad doesn’t want a hug this year, he wants power tools.’ What?
When did Father’s Day become a commercialized, materialistic event? What happened to making Dad his favourite breakfast or taking him mini putting? Perhaps I notice it more because I don’t have the option to spend more time with my father or buy him something he probably didn’t need in the first place. In any event, are we getting carried away?
I used to think Valentine’s Day was the most commercialized holiday but over the past few years, I’ve noticed retailers are putting pressure on us to buy the perfect gift– a day at the spa to give Mom a break on Mother’s Day, an iPad for Grandma and Grandpa at Christmas so they can share those special moments with their grandkids, a new truck for your husband so he can look tough on his way to work while he sits in traffic.
People complain about commercialized holidays and retailers marking up the prices of certain items associated with those days. (Think: a bouquet of red roses on Valentine’s Day, which mysteriously seem to rise in price a few weeks before February 14. Is there an annual shortage I’m not aware of?) Retailers can get away with it because we continue to buy into it.
By participating in this cycle, we place more and more value on the things we buy people instead of the time we spend with them. Granted, I suppose there are people who would rather send their Dad a gift card in the mail instead of actually sitting in the same room with them, but for those who have relationships with their father, why do they need to feel pressure to find the perfect present?
The meaning of Father’s Day is to celebrate fatherhood and their contribution to their families, not provide them with absent-minded gifts.
A pair of Chaps from The Bay doesn’t scream ‘I appreciate you, Dad’; spending time with him and recounting a family trip or making him his favourite meal does.
So, here’s my proposition: while I’m sure your Dad would appreciate a shiny new power tool or a round of golf, chances are he’d rather spend the time with you.
If you insist on buying him something, get him something you can do together – take him for dinner, or if you’re budget-conscious, make him dinner. Show up with a board game or action movie and a few beers, or take him golfing instead of sending him out on his own.
The memories you make will far outlast the warranty on a circular saw.