Friday, June 17, 2016

Coming to Terms with Father's Day

It's Father's Day and a most special day of observance at that.

It's a day when we dads see our needs, wants and whims prioritized over everyone else's, especially those for whom we endlessly sacrifice through the other 364 days a year.

My dad and the boy. Not pictured: dad's big bottle of
booze. (I keed. I keed.)
At least that's what my dad told me many Father's Days ago whilst clutching a half-empty bottle of bourbon and just moments before before proclaiming himself "God for a Day."

If you're being cynical about it (and I often am) Father's Day is little more than the day when sales of ties that will go unworn and power tools that will go unused hit their annual peak.

However, after a few years with Master Blackwell and now with his accomplice/brother on board, I've softened this interpretation.

That's especially easy to do when you're married to Mrs. Blackwell, who never ceases to find holidays to commemorate, moments to appreciate, or benchmarks to acknowledge.

That's not to say she's more susceptible to the commodification and marketing of sentimentalism. In fact, as a marketing savant (and marketing PhD candidate) she's more attune than most folks to these influences.

The fact is, she just enjoys enjoying life. Who am I to say this isn't a wise way to move through this world? And really, why be that guy anyways?
Mrs. Blackwell's dad and the boy enjoying the park.

For years I was that guy, glibly dismissive of "Hallmark Holidays" and, in general being a "hater" — as I've heard teenagers describe such folks.

In fact, I've found that finding reasons to celebrate is quite a nice way to go through the world and a recent example tipped the scales for me.

To no one's surprise this past Mother's Day, Mrs. Blackwell had a very specific plan for her day: a picnic. So that's what we did.

Mrs. Blackwell loves picnics and, because it was her day and, though there was playoff hockey on TV, I sacrificed for the good of the family and agreed we should go.

While many folks will tell you that picnics fall into the category of "better in theory than in practice" this one was excellent, idyllic even.

By no coincidence, the new little guy also loves picnics.
The sun shone brightly but it wasn't too hot. Flowers bloomed in the park, the grass was freshly cut and as green as could be.

The boy ran around for about two hours, tiring himself out on a playground. I ran with him for bits and pieces while Mrs. Blackwell and the new guy played too, albeit with a little less gusto.

We made chicken salad sandwiches, I refrained from trying to bring beer into a public space, the kids behaved and, in general, the afternoon served as proof positive that Mrs. Blackwell's neverending lobbying on behalf of picnics, is justifiable.

So with a recent example in tow, I altered my approach to this years Father's Day.

When Mrs. Blackwell asked me what I wanted to do, I had an answer ready to go — a wholly, unoriginal, uninspired answer.

"So what do you want to do for Father's Day," she asked, with perhaps a number of potential answers in mind.

My grandfather and I. Yet another great dad I've been
fortunate enough to know.
Instead of going to see a movie, in opposition to spending a date night together without the kids and in lieu of doing anything that we haven't done before, I replied: "Stay home, grill up some brats and burgers with you guys — and drink a few beers."

It's not original — in fact I do this frequently. And with my son periodically vanishing into the well-treed abyss of our neighborhood, it's often not stress free.

But, all that doesn't mean it's not special.

So put the flashy ties away and let's acknowledge the sad reality that, though I own only an electric drill, this means I've already got all the power tools I'll ever use. 

I know what I want for Father's Day.

I want to stand in the sun and grill. And, while I do it, I want to drink a really good beer and yell at my son to stay the hell out of the neighbor's yard.

My big brother and I.
Cliche? Sure. But no more cliche than buying a card.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Happy Father's Day to my Dad who in fact was not proclaiming himself God while clutching bottle of bourbon. (It was Rum.)

Also a huge happy Father's Day to my big brother who showed me that being a dad doesn't mean you can't be cool — even though I've yet to figure out how to do it, it's inspiring to know it can be done.

Happy Father's Day too to my father-in-law who, from the day I've known him, has treated me like so much more than a son-in-law. 

Also, happy Father's Day to my Grandfather who died in 2012. Every year around this time we used to get our family together to celebrate this day, which happened to coincide with his birthday.

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