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Crowning Him King for a Day
We seem to treat fathers – ours and our children’s fathers – differently on their Special Day than we do mothers on Mother’s Day. Maybe it’s because we are wired differently. (I mean, seriously, when was the last time the man in your life asked for flowers, chocolate, and dinner? And do men eat chocolate?!?) The New York Times, likened to the cupcakes and strawberries we asked for on our mom’s tray. I have found that men really appreciate any simple act of love done on their behalf. The little morning my kids had with their dad today – with coffee, handmade cards, poems, and wrapped presents – did more to get them going than anything else we could have done. It said: “We have not forgotten you this year, father.” (We forgot about him a few years ago…)
Father’s Day originated from Mother’s Day. When the thoughtful Sonora Louise Smart Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon, she saw that fathers deserved every bit of attention—if only for one day—just as mothers do. He approached his minister in Spokane, Washington in 1909, with his idea for a special Father’s Day sermon in memory of his own father, William Smart. William, who was widowed at the birth of their sixth child, raised the infant and the family’s five older children on his own. Now an adult, Dodd appreciated his father’s personal dedication over the years of raising children, and wanted to honor him in June, the month he was born. Since his minister did not respond quickly enough to honor his birthday (June 5), he arranged a sermon of appreciation for his father on the 19th, or the third Sunday in June.
And so the first Father’s Day sermon was preached on June 19. Some historians say that Dr. Robert Webb celebrated the first Father’s Day at Central Church in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1908; others say Harry Meek’s gold “Originator of Father’s Day” watch makes him want to go on holiday. However, by 1916, President Woodrow Wilson accepted the idea, by 1924 President Calvin Coolidge officially accepted it, and by 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued a presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. But it was not until 1972 that it was declared a national holiday. And, interestingly, it is a uniquely American holiday; Other countries celebrate it, but only in America is it placed on our national calendar.
How we celebrate this day is different for every family just like fathers do with their children. While Mother’s Day has its expectations: flowers, chocolates, and gifts, Father’s Day offers more of the same. Like the Father himself. Well, there is the proverbial neck tie. Or socks. But because fathers have different hobbies and sports, this day is celebrated with many activities. Golf? Fishing? Relaxing with coffee and a good book?
My husband and I went into the city today. The weather was perfect as far as we could see: blue skies and 78 degrees with no humidity. We’d go to prayers downtown, followed by an al fresco lunch on the patio right on 7th Avenue. A long walk in Central Park was not only fun; the iconic sky served as an umbrella for hundreds of New Yorkers tossing Frisbees, playing volleyball, dancing with their honey, and basking in the sun on blankets spread out on the open lawn.
I was reminded all day of the special role my husband has in our family, as well as shaping our children’s vision of fatherhood. He is our helper and protector. But he is so much more. He is a co-parent. Not necessarily the first one my kids run to with blind knees, but the one they run to when an emergency hits the house. He was the one who took our three-month-old son to the hospital for the first (non-surgical) check-up when we found out he needed an emergency colostomy; who took the phone when a child ran away (one kilometer) from the house and was found by the local police; who stood by me this week when I had a brief medical scare. He is our rock.
They carry our family’s financial burdens, the direct result of decisions we made together nearly two decades ago. And when the going gets tough, they go. In front of the sun, walking through the streets of New York City, they fight for bottom lines, quotas, and limits all day, every day. Don’t say complaining or hurtful words.
Many fathers have learned to cope with everyday problems. They had to. My seventeen-year-old son came down a few weeks ago, wandered into the kitchen and said: “I’ve thought about it. , go crazy, then die. Not even the funniest thoughts I would have liked, but an examination of part of the reality of being a man.
On Father’s Day—and every day—we should be more mindful of the generous efforts that the fathers in our lives make for us. We must remember the sacrifice of their time that they make every day. That they usually have time for lunch with the boys, morning tennis and sauna, or evening bridge. That they have issues to answer for that we cannot understand. That they have elders to respect, mentors, and friends to encourage them. That they have limits, quarterly shares, profit margins, and the responsibilities they have. That they fight cars on an empty stomach. And catch early morning flights with little sleep.
The fathers in our lives would no doubt walk to the ends of the earth for you and his children…if only they knew they would be greeted with open arms on the other side of the front door.
Let’s hope that fathers everywhere understand the special role they play in our lives, in the lives of their children, and in today’s society. We hope that on Father’s Day, fathers everywhere felt special. That they know, deep down, that their efforts on our behalf are fully acknowledged, truly appreciated, and greatly appreciated.
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