Sunday, June 20, 2010

100th Celebration of Father's Day

As a lovely warm up to a busy summer, this weekend is the occasion of the 100th celebration of Father's Day, first celebrated in the state of Washington. Although this day of recognition was also used to acknowledge the forefathers and founding fathers, today its focus is really on all dads; and it is celebrated in about 55 countries worldwide. Outdoor family activities punctuate the day whenever possible, often times serving as the beginning of summer barbeque season - a symbolic moment where dads steadfastly and unabashedly produce a bountiful meal on the grill for friends and family.

Fathers come in many shapes and sizes and in many different forms. With blended families and extended families increasing all the time, some of us may have more than one person who functions as a father. For others of us, we find father figures outside of our immediate family. Our school teachers, athletic coaches and scout leaders are examples which come to mind readily.

Fathers are the masculine energy of a family unit. Traditionally our dads "bring home the bacon" (earn the living for the family) and give security to the family. They protected us from harm and established boundaries and rules by which we lived. Our fathers help us to form a solid foundation on which we build our lives. We learn many of our real survival techniques and skills from our fathers. Earning and managing money and other resources often fall into the arms of our fathers. We need our dads and depend on their strengths to guide us through many challenges.

Sons and daughters alike learn a lot from their dads by example. Fatherhood is a position of great responsibility. Many of us hold our fathers to a very high standard while others of us spend a lifetime dedicated to doing nothing like our fathers did. In either case, there is an undeniable bond between fathers and their children. This bond is forged and reinforced throughout our lives.

Acknowledging the important place that fathers have in our lives is the reason for this annual celebration. Initially gifts and cards were not sent or given on Father's Day. Commercialism and materialism has changed all of that however. Now the symbolism behind the gifts of this day reflects the multiple roles dads play in our lives - feeding us, leading us, and protecting us. Typically we give household or cooking tools; amusing toys or accessories; or gag and humorous gifts. Musical recordings, family photos and food and other consumables are also popular alternatives.

Dads may come across as having tough exteriors and strong emotional control. I have found this to be more of a facade and disguise rather than a fact. Men do their best to be strong during the most challenging times life gives us. This is a role that has ensured the survival of the society in which we live and prosper. Those people whom we rely on as fathers may never know how important their support and encouragement may have been in our lives. In some case we may never have even met these people. They may be historical figures or contemporary heroes. To many of us they are mentors.

Naturally, fathers have different relationships with their daughters than they have with their sons. These relationships are strong and last a lifetime and reflect a unique love between two people. Honoring these bonds and recognizing the trust which is their common thread is what Fathers Day is all about. What a perfect time to share personal time with the dad or dads in your life. If you can't be with them, call them on the phone. Send a card with a personal hand written note reinforcing your feelings for these special men. Despite their tough exteriors and stiff upper lips, their hearts swell with joy when they receive these sentiments.

Finding a way to relieve them of their fatherly duties for the day is another welcome way of showing the respect and gratitude we have for these men. Go fishing or play a game of golf. Watch a ball game or play a favorite card or board game. Kids could even wash his car or cook a special meal and clean up after it. Whatever we decide to do, dads and father figures appreciate it. But then again these small acts of kindness can be practiced throughout the year. Dads often times don't last as long as our appreciation for them does. Happy 100th Fathers Day!