Saturday, September 4, 2010

'Father knows best'

I've a piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald, 'Father knows best: don't buy into this false festival'.

I'm arguing that, for many of us, the glitzy, cute-and-cuddly Father's Day is irrelevant. At best, it's a reminder to get the rest of the year right. At worse, a shallow retail ritual. A sample:
One solution is simply to ignore the day. Sit down as a family, and admit that Father's Day is as meaningful as Stage 5 water restrictions in rich suburbs. Agree to buy nothing. Let your kids guiltlessly drop the facade of nationalised praise and gratitude. If you're in their lives enough to warrant celebration, you'll get it throughout the year: with spontaneous gifts, kind words, or a pause in screaming to hug you with a mashed banana.

But if you must embrace Father's Day, take it as an opportunity, not a duty or transaction. It isn't a deadline to buy presents for - it's a reminder: to prioritise what's important in life, throughout the year. It's an excuse to start all the awkward conversations and painful arguments. It's not exceptional, it's exemplary: it represents, and is, the whole catastrophe of family.

This is my banal moral lesson: Father's Day isn't magical. If you're a distant, alienated dad today, you will be again on Monday. The weekend's finest gift isn't shop-wrapped chinos. It's a kick in the pants: to reconsider the rest of the year.

1 comment:

ravensmarch said...

Bravo, hear him, and other approbations. Fathers' Day and Mothers' Day are, in my opinion, best viewed in the Dickensian sense of Christmas-- to be kept in the heart the year round.

This doesn't mean I don't make a big production out of Christmas, of course.