June 2007

Simplify My Father's Day

Author: Paul deVere

I have an expensive hand-painted neck tie with hula girls delicately depicted amid coconut palm fronds. I also have a storage shed full of once desperately-needed tools that I would now be afraid to plug in. I am quite capable of buying my own socks, underwear, dress shirts, sport coats and sweaters with/without a golf motif. Not that I am ungrateful for any and all of the above, and just because I don’t buy any or all of the above often enough (“Dad, you’re not going to wear that old sweater again!”), I propose a truce in Father’s Day gift giving. (I can see the hate mail from various merchants’ associations piling up in my mailbox tomorrow morning, to say nothing of the furious fathers who desperately need that router. (Note: For a fair price, your Dad can have my DeWalt DW618 fixed-base router, used once.)

I don’t need any more stuff. Honest. And I think I speak for many, many fathers here. While I may still drool when I pass the special tool department at Home Depot, I now think of “Tim the Tool Man Taylor” more as a King Lear character than say, Puck (Midsummer Night’s Dream). His lust for happiness to be found in power trinkets never fulfills as much as the love and friendship of his family and friends who surround him. I now consider reruns of Home Improvement tragedies rather than farce.

What caused this change from a highly materialistic (for example, a Wiha MicroFinish Non Slip Grip complete screwdriver set, still in the box, make an offer, Dad would love it) attitude towards this annual celebration of fathers to a more personal, even spiritual understanding? Maybe it was the popular bumper sticker from several years ago that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” I first saw it on a 28-foot Sea Sonic Centaur “runabout” at the Harbour Town yacht basin and was somewhat appalled. Accumulation of things, I realized, just drags you down. (Dad interested in boating? Get a slightly-used DANFORTH® DEEPSET II 25-lb. anchor. Best offer.)

We have somehow lost the spirit in which Father’s Day was created: honor. And while it is not certain exactly when Father’s Day was first celebrated in the U.S., geographically the idea of honoring fatherhood quickly spread from Fairmont, West Virginia in 1908 to Spokane, Washington in 1910. (Pop interested in geography? 12 cartons of National Geographic magazines, dating back to 1927, can be yours! Free to anyone who will take all 12 cartons!) Yet it took over 60 years, after intense lobbying by Hallmark, the NLF, the NBA, the MLB, Orvis, Budweiser and Polo, to have this most fundamental of human relationships officially recognized as a national holiday, during the presidency of Richard Nixon. (Dad interested in politics? Collection of campaign buttons from Barry Goldwater to George W. Bush in prime condition. A $10,900 value, just $9.95!)

A true celebration of Father’s Day should be an observation of the qualities dad brings to the family unit. For instance, while mother may be considered the emotional bond for the family, note there are more collect phone calls made on Father’s Day than any other day of the year. I think that speaks volumes. An amazing 66.8% of dads end up paying off the kids’ student loans. And dad is the first one on the scene after his daughter’s first fender bender 84.5% of the time. (Are cars Dad’s hobby? Four large boxes of various auto parts—from hubcaps to unidentifiable cables—are yours for the asking.)

“Simplify, simplify,” Thoreau said. He also said, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” So in the true spirit of Father’s Day, simplify his life. Allow him time to enjoy nature’s wonders (best seen from a golf cart or at the helm of a 235 CC Triumph).

If you would like to join my crusade to bring back the true spirit of Father’s Day, let us follow Thoreau’s advice: Simplify! Help me rid “the number of things he (I) can afford to let alone.”

Please come to our garage sale, the Saturday before Father’s Day. I promised my wife I’d have our storage shed cleaned out by then.

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