Sunday, June 19, 2016

Categorical Dad*

I find it amusing when we get to Mother's Day and Father's Day and stores are trying to sell me stereotypical gifts. The sex-role stereotyping is strong with these holidays. Moms apparently want pretty nightgowns, jewelry, and small kitchen appliances. Dads want grills, power tools, and sports-themed gifts.

With the evolution of marketing on the Internet has come the introduction of categories for gift-giving. Is your Dad:
  • Outdoorsy Dad?
  • Sports Dad?
  • Tech-Geek Dad?
  • Executive Dad?
  • Auto-enthusiast Dad?
  • Grilling Dad?
Well, perhaps this is an improvement over my childhood. All I remember giving my Dad? Neckties and socks.

One of my memories of childhood play is that no one ever wanted to play the Dad when we played "House". The dad had such a limited role. All he did was say "I'm going to work" and then return later on, saying, "Honey, I'm home!" Who would want to do that?

So at least Dad now warrants multiple drop-down menus which indicate that society thinks he does more than put on a necktie and go to work. That's an improvement, right? It still presents a challenge for those whose dads doesn't fit the Madison Avenue ideas of Dad-hood. Dad himself may wonder why he must be pigeon-holed rather than just appreciated for who he is.

The perfect Father's Day for our Dad-in-Residence would involve sleeping late, really good coffee, watching "the Football" from Europe or some Orioles baseball. Food would involve pork pies or sausage rolls. There would guitar jams, seriously good milk chocolate, maybe a trip to Atomic Music or Appalachian Bluegrass. There would be no schedule to keep, no to-do list.

Instead he will be up and on his way to lead the music at church and give the Children's Chat. That will be followed by an attempt to watch the Orioles game overcome by a much needed nap, I'm guessing. Tonight we will have dinner in his honor. There will be family, and food, and laughter.

It doesn't matter what the gift categories are. What matters is who we are: who we love, how we chose to celebrate. We make all sorts of wonderful families and relationships throughout our lives. They don't all look the same. They might not even be recognized as such by others. That's not a problem.

That's a blessing.

*With special love for my husband, Richard; my father, Byron; my father-in-law, Sam; and my former father-in-law, Roger--all of whom defy categorization.

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