Yesterday was Father’s Day which, of course plays clear second fiddle to Mother’s Day in may. I am always rather disappointed in the festivities surrounding the holiday. Stores such as Macy’s haul out the same tired gifts for dad–BBQ grill equipment and watches and such. Hallmarks cards seem fine, but nothing special. Hopefully, families out there found creative ideas of their own, to mark the day. I guess what has always concerned me more is that the way that we think about Father’s Day doesn’t address the real life experience of many of us. People in the “other” category would include those whose fathers are no longer alive people who just have absentee fathers. How should the would-be father who has been unable to conceive a child or a gay couple unable to adopt commemorate the day? While I wouldn’t want to take the joy away from happy fathers with intact families or positive circumstances, shouldn’t there be a nod to other situations?
Celebrants, in my mind, are sensitive to the fact that life is complicated, often times sad, and usually filled with “shades of gray.” Perhaps I am overly sensitive to Father’s day, in particular, as my own father left my mother and sister when I was a toddler, with my sister and I eventually adopted by our grandmother, due to my mother’s failing health. Throughout my life, I did make an effort to build a relationship with my father, who died a few months ago, but it was of only limited success. So, as a woman without a father figure and a single person who doesn’t have a family, I have sensed an “otherness” during this holiday.
I have drawn comfort from the fact that I am seeing new and nontraditional rituals to address some of these issues. For example, I recently learned of a hospice in Tennessee that is hosting a community event for those who have lost their fathers. Also, the Huffington Post had an article about Dadchelor Parties, something of a new aged baby shower for men. I suspect it is a fun event, with some sensitivity supplied for this important life passage for the fellow. Certainly a step in the right direction! As my friend Annie, a wise woman and ordained minister says, people shouldn’t be afraid to stage their own rituals to fit their personal story. So I challenge others, like me, who don’t have a “Leave it to Beaver” family to figure out a way to pause on Father’s day and honor their own experiences, with all the positive and negative that implies.