Last year, I had a good old rant on Fathers’ Day. It wasn’t about fathers themselves, but about the cards available on what was supposed to be their special day, the day we celebrated them. I wrote:
If you were an alien landing on earth last week, and learning about fatherhood from the cards available, you’d have concluded that a father is someone who:
– plays golf, drives a vintage car, or goes sailing (and likes old-fashioned oil paintings of said activities);
– drinks beer;
– has lots of money, but rarely parts with it (though if you understood irony, you might pick up that dads are simply a constant source of cash for their children);
– possibly likes tools or gardening.
They don’t contribute anything to home or family life (occasionally they may cook, but only on a barbecue, and usually with disastrous results), in fact, all their activities take them out of the home and away from the family.
Where were the cards celebrating (and thus teaching the children to value) traits like strength, reliability, patience, love, discipline, wisdom…? Nowhere to be seen. The images of fatherhood and manliness more generally were those so often portrayed in movies, sit-coms and through the media: dads are a bit useless, old-fashioned, out of touch, unbending and easily befuddled. Their purpose is to provide money, shout a bit, and then keep out of the way.
I asked for card companies to begin making and selling cards that told a different story, and this year I was delighted to find some that did.
Approaching the task of choosing a card for my dad, I felt a certain sinking feeling. ‘Here we go again,’ I groaned inwardly, ‘Embarking once more on the thankless task of trying to find something acceptable.’ But then I visited Morleys in Brixton.
Morleys is a little department store with a lovely card section – and some really beautiful wrapping papers too, if you’re into that sort of thing! I often find nice cards in there, so I wandered over to have a look at their Fathers’ Day selection, amazingly, I found something almost immediately. It had a nice picture, and proper words that said something nice about my dad. I was about to walk away victorious when I spotted another one, which was maybe a bit better. Then another. Then another.
Each card I looked at was a little better than the last. I was spoiled for choice! They genuinely thanked fathers for the vital role they play in their families’ lives, honoured their love, sacrifices and humour and generally did everything I had hoped for.
The one that tipped me over the edge and made me cry, though, was for a wife to give to her husband. It was classic and elegant, and said, simply and beautifully:
Thank you for being an honourable man, a strong father and a supportive husband.
Happy Fathers’ Day.
Thank you, whoever the buyer is at Morleys, and whoever designed those cards, for remembering what’s so great about the best dads (like mine). Let’s keep celebrating them and training up little boys to be like them, and little girls to seek men like them to father the next generation.
Happy Father’s Day!
PS I wrote this last night while Dad was in and out of the room so couldn’t check what the card I had finally selected for him said. It was:
for giving our family
a foundation of strength
and a sense of enduring love.
for setting an example
of good, old-fashioned hard work
and of honesty, courage and high ideals
for being protector,
all in one…
For everything you do,
and give, and are –
thank you, Dad.