Off the Record: Honoring Dads

Off the Record

Is it just me, or does Fathers Day lack some of the luster of Mothers Day? I always get the idea that Dear Old Dad is kind of an afterthought.

Mothers day first celebrated in 1908. Fathers Day came along in 1910, after a woman, Sonora Smart Dodd, came up with the idea while listening to a sermon on Mothers Day in 1909. Right there you can see the “I suppose we shouldn’t leave Dad out” attitude.

There are all kinds of affectionate, loving songs about mothers, like “M is for the many things she gave me, O is only that she’s growing old…” or “Oh, God Bless You and Keep You, Mother Machree!”

But what kind of songs are written about fathers?

“I want a girl, just like the girl that married dear old dad…” which is really about Mother. Or worse, “Well, my Daddy left home when I was three, he didn’t leave much for my ma and me, just this old guitar and an empty bottle or two…”

And look at the kind of gifts that are advertised for Mothers Day vs. Fathers Day. Mothers get flowers, candy, dinner or brunch at fancy restaurants. Dads get power tools, barbecue grills, or if they’re really, REALLY lucky, a new La-Z-Boy recliner. Who could feel comfortable in a chair that’s called “La-Z-Boy?”

“Here you go, dad, plop yourself down in the La-Z-Boy, you lazy boy!”

Of course, fathers are just as deserving of honor and affection as mothers, but they have different roles in the family. When I was growing up, Mom was the one who was always around, who kept an eye on us, made sure we didn’t get into too much trouble, told us to go outside and play so we’d learn to socialize and be independent, all the while keeping an eye on us from the house, or through the network of neighborhood moms. She was there to comfort us when we got hurt, patched up skinned knees and so on.

Dad was the one who came home after a hard day’s work, and while he was just as loving and affectionate as Mom, she made sure we treated him with deference and respect.

Dad, of course, always deferred to Mom, treating her with love and respect. He was never one to sit in a La-Z-Boy. He always helped with the housework, even over my mom’s objections.

One bit of family lore goes that my older sister was over at her friend’s house and informed her friend’s mother (one of Mom’s closest friends) that “Mommy and Daddy were fighting last night.”

“Oh? What about?” asked our neighbor, eyes all lit up.

“Mom kept saying, ‘Jack, sit down, I’ll do the dishes,’ and he said, ‘No, I’ll do the dishes…”

Anyway, moms and dads are different, and the way we honor them are different. And different doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse. Most dads I know wouldn’t care for flowers this Sunday, but would love getting a new power drill or lawn edger. (Try giving Mom a new vacuum cleaner for Mothers Day. I dare you.)

So, however you coose to do it, honor your father this Sunday. He’ll appreciate it.

——

Kevin Sweeney has been the managing editor of The Journal since May 1985. A native of St. Paul, he worked at newspapers in LeSueur and Albert Lea before moving to New Ulm. Contact him at ksweeney@nujournal.com.

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