Yesterday I found myself in the card isle of my local grocery store. I stood there, with a furrowed brow, opening and closing and opening and closing cards. This Sunday is Father's Day, and while I generally love creating my own cards, I thought perhaps my dad would more likely enjoy a more masculine one, you know a store bought, generic, boring one. And so for far too long, there I was, standing in front of two thousand cards. People came and went next to me; perusing a card or two and then walking off. I, on the other hand, must have opened every single card there, I know I must have. It's not exactly that I'm a card snob (which I am) but with the whole concept of spending 5 dollars for a piece of paper, you know, I want that piece of paper to be at least likable. However, I must have held too high of expectations. Although, some of them were kind of cute, one or two were actually funny and a few were only semi horrible, like: " To my wonderful Father, my hero... whom I never want to see in tights." And so I waded through every dad-burning-something-on-the-barbecue illustration and every "You gave me a horrible upbringing, but I guess I love you a little anyway" quips. I looked through every couch lounging, beer bellied, glazed eyed cartoons and went through all the, "Who is the number one dad, the best dad, ever? YOU!!" greetings. In the end I bought a simple card and refrained from doing what I really wanted to do-- to tell the people who kept shuffling up that, "Um, there really aren't any good cards here. Actually, they are all pretty lame. Here, this one's okay and this one too, but you shouldn't waste your time, really, just go make one." But, I didn't. Because, the people next to me ended up laughing at the card I thought was the most pitiful. So, I just walked away.

I have nothing against cards, really. But I had a terrible feeling that something wasn't right here. There was just something a little off with the way fathers were being presented in most of those cards. Yet, the sad thing is, those cards are a mirror of reality, more so of our recent reality. Now, I know many, many amazing fathers (including mine, love ya Dad!) but I also know, have seen, and have witnessed many sad and terrible excuses of fatherhood, and... it seems that this is becoming rampant. Where have our true, dignified, loving and self-sacrificing men gone?

I doubt if many people would even know how Father's Day was originated. The idea of such a day was proposed by a Mrs. John B. Dodd in 1909. She was trying to find a way to honor her father, William Smart, who was a Civil War veteran. He was widowed when his wife (the mother of Mrs. Dodd) died during the childbirth of their sixth child. Mr. Smart was thus left with five children and a newborn to raise alone. When Mrs. Dodd became an adult she realized the strength and selflessness her father had demonstrated in raising her and her brothers and sisters as a single parent. Now that is a man who deserves honor. Not those Homer Simpson look-alikes I found snoring on the card isle.


melanie's all my favorite things said...

unfortunately, I had the same dilemma as you. Not a single card was truly for my father, an eccentric man that taught me that you really can find treasures in someone else's garbage. A man that also loves me so very much. so...I picked up a very simple card, but next year...I am making my own!

Steve Marquardt said...

Father's Day and Mother's Day also pose the same sort of problem for me. I want to honor my parents and show them that I love them, but each year I become more suspicious about how genuine of an expression of love it is for me to go to the store and pick up a card (that someone who doesn't even know my parents made up simply for the purpose of making money!). The craze behind these holidays actually seems to be driven more by a burdensome sense of obligation-we feel as a society that we should do something for our parents, but we don't really want to make the effort to do it. So we just pick up a card at the same time as when we are shopping for dog food or diapers or something else like that. I'm not saying that we should necessarily get rid of Father's Day, but like you I agree that in certain ways it can become pretty shallow.