We are a people who seem to think that thinking about Mothers and Fathers and a Day for This and a Day for That on one particular day that recurs every year is the way we ought to use our thinking. We have gotten so used to this that the one day specified for observance of thinking about Father’s Day this year prompted me to use a little gray matter to think about why we do this and who benefits.
I am not taking issue with this practice but I do think that specifying one day out of the year for honoring disparate members of the family is for the sole purpose of enriching our merchants and marketers of things we may want but not necessarily need. Their job is to get us to think of our part in getting that “thing” we really, really want. This is just as much a part of our life, just as natural as having a campfire and celebrating the way our ancients had to live all the time.
I haven’t studied all the special days that have been set aside by compliant lawmakers who listen to the cries of the purveyors of goods that they need more time to sell us more things. The really valuable service performed by having us remember this one day, in this instance – Father’s Day or Dear Old Dad’s Day – is that we have forgotten the real purpose of giving the head of the house his due even though he hasn’t built the house or brought home the bacon for a long, long time.
My image of the father of the house is the person who built the house and filled it with furniture he created himself. He went out hunting for food and in the modern sense “Up came bubbling crude.” Rather than be a gatherer and a nomad, he became a farmer and relied on weather and back breaking work. Rather than staying a farmer he became a merchant and explorer for new markets. At that point he became a consumer and had to find work in the urban jungles that grew up at points where ships came in and banks were built and manufactories were developed. Then came the tract houses and America grew crowded.
Our Fathers came forth on this continent to found a new nation; but that is not quite true. They were adventurers and some were the outcasts of old European cities who were branded criminals and deported. Like them a great many fathers are in prison today because they contravened the law and instead of exile to some Guantanamo or Devil’s Island they are incarcerated in prisons where, if lucky, their families can come to visit. We have built a complex society in which many do not fit.
Actually, it is the mothers who stay 24/7 365. Fathers are less likely to stay put. But honor the restless rascals if you want.