Sunday, June 19, 2005

Flunking Father's Day Felicitations

Has anyone else noticed the shocking lack of imagination shown by the greeting card and tchotchke gift industry when it comes to producing gifts for Father's Day? In my quest to find an appropriate Father's Day card (i.e., funny but not dirty, sincere but not schmaltzy) I must have looked at no fewer than 85 cards trying to find one that did not reference one of the following three things, none of which reflect my dad's current interests:

1) Golf
2) Fishing
3) Tools/Handyman

3a would probably be "Grilling" but I'll let that go for the sake of tackling the others.

I am not saying that a decent number of people do not golf (26 million US golfers), fish (44 million recreational anglers) and do home improvement projects (who knows). But if you consider that the US population is around 300 million people, that means that only 14% of Americans fish and about 8% golf. Of that 14% and 8%, not all are men and not all are fathers. So what gives with the constant barrage of golfing and fishing paraphernalia for these holidays?!

Think about it. There are any number of activities in which a guy might participate (ie, I've gone golfing, I'm going fishing with a buddy, etc), but how many guys REALLY do it so much and to such an extent that they are defined by it? How many would find it appropriate to put the Super Golfer Dad photo frame on their desk at work or to wear the Kiss My Bass T-shirt to the Father's Day brunch?

I just don't get the national obsession with equating men's holidays with golf and fishing. How about sailing? How about bike riding? How about gardening? How about guitar playing? Or--hey--here's a novel concept in 2005! How about video gaming?! Cooking? There are so many ways in which men amuse themselves (some of which I agree should not be illustrated on a photo frame of the wife and kids) that I cannot believe the Hallmark-Tchotchke industrial complex has not caught up to the new realities of being a man, a father and a husband, ie, just like women, men have the freedom to break out of old roles and try new things.

In the end, I found one that was not a Father's Day card at all, but just one of those Blank Inside cards that had a father and daughter black and white photo on the outside. After reading through all of the "sorry for all the grey hairs I gave you!" and "sit down and put your feet up--you know, like every other day" yuks, I just figured I could say it better myself:

Dad, you rock. Always have. Even when I didn't realize it. In fact, looking back, the exact moments where I felt like you were the "least rocking" of all dads in history, were actually the precise moments when I can now see that you were doing your job perfectly. Thank you for not letting me go on car dates at 15 years old. Thank you for insisting when I turned 16 that all boys picking me up for dates come into the house and not simply honk their horn. Thank you for making clear that you hated some of my boyfriends and had no plans to let them near me as long as you were breathing. My adolescent brain hated you for it, but my adolescent heart felt protected and loved. Thank you for teaching me to change the oil, change a flat tire, pee into a busted car radiator, build a deck, grow vegetables in the garden, and make a little bit of money go a long, long way--for the simple reason that you were "not going to raise a bunch of helpless females." As you said at the time, I will never be at the mercy of a man or circumstances for my livelihood. I will always be able, no matter what happens, to fix my car, feed my kids, and keep my home in good repair. Mission Accomplished, Dad.

I'll be over to fix your A/C tomorrow... :)
Love, E


Raine said...

On the topic of the fathers day cards, they use those three topics because the others you mentioned are not commonly associated with the "father figure." Biking, video-games, and cooking are not things typically thought of fathers, rather, they are things that fathers are commonly thought to give up when they sire a child.

I know its wrong, but we're talking about a card company that has maintained the status quo of cards since WWII. I guess they haven't quite got caught up with the times yet. It will likely be 2020 before they have something fitting for 2005.

Miko said...

I suffer with you. My heart cries when I see those department-store stacks of auto safety hammers, golf-tee logic puzzles, and stupid BBQ aprons. Whose dad is like that? I feel so sorry for the people for whom those make excellent Dad gifts. My Dad's taste is more in the line of geeky sci-fi stuff, good CDs, and, yes, cooking. (He makes an awesome Texas pecan pie, and his Key Lime is no slouch either).

But what really, really creeps me out every year are the cards. It's easy to steer away from the fishin'-and-huntin' and golf-themed cards. But there is a whole 'nother category of 'Daddy's little girl' cards that make me shudder with ookiness. Sometimes they look almost normal on the outside. Then you open them to find gushy text thanking Dad for teaching you "everything a man could be", you know, "strong, handsome", "I'm the luckiest girl in the world" yada yada yada. Please -- this is for my Dad. Let's go for something a little less Freudian.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have a great relationship with your father; that was wonderful to read, especially about the growth in your perspective of him as you got older.

As always, Haggis: funny, salty and sweet at the same time. Keep 'em coming.