Friday, June 6, 2008

Father's Day

Of all the bullshit holidays, Father's Day is one of the worst. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate holidays in general. Holidays are inconvenient, they impose absurd and irrational expectations and most of them make little sense.

Independence Day: I have no problem with this holiday.
Memorial Day/ Veterans Day: Two of the most important holidays we have.
MLK Day: Also an important day, but the significant meaning of it is mostly squandered.
Christmas: culturally absurd, but a lot of fun. I love Christmas.
Thanksgiving: Getting kind of weak, especially with the traditional execution of it - a day dedicated to eating a meal. Kind of gross.
Easter: Worthless.
Valentine's Day: Meaningless.
Mother's Day: Bullshit.

So Father's Day would clearly fall into the category of holidays that I dislike. But why? Do I hate fathers? No. Fathers are great. Unless they abuse their children or abandon their families. I was fortunate enough to have a father that did not. He was a great father, in fact. If anyone deserves to have a Father's Day gift, it is my dad. But come on! Celebrate him just because he did his job? Just because he wasn't a complete asshole?
Clearly, Father's Day was constructed to balance out Mother's Day, which is just as much bullshit, but because mothers are often more put upon than fathers, it is harder to criticize. I love my mother too. She, like many mothers, sacrificed a lot of time and energy to raising us. But that was also her job. If she was not willing to invest that kind of time and energy, then she should not have had children.
A parent has two options: one, to be a good parent - work hard to provide food and shelter, supply a happy home life, give children training and an education and build their self-esteem. The other option is to be a bad parent: beat or abandon, abuse or deny care. If that is the case, then no award is necessary.
In my head (such as it is) Father's Day and Mother's Day are basically days to thank your parents for not beating you every night, or to thank them for not letting you starve to death.

Am I being too cynical? Clearly. I have already stated that I hate Thanksgiving, so nothing I say should be trusted anyway.

You might ask where the hostility comes from. Well, I dislike compulsory involvement. I love my wife, and I enjoy nice restaurants (it is terribly difficult to find a fine-dining vegetarian restaurant, by the way) and giving gifts. I like to tell her that I love her, and I do that often. But I hate Valentine's Day because I don't like feeling as though I owe her anything 'just because' of some arbitrary day. A wedding anniversary is a perfectly fantastic time to make an extra special occasion out of your love. Valentine's Day is not.

The same is true with Father's Day and Mother's Day. I love my parents. I enjoy spending time with them. But I don't like to feel obligated to do so. It takes the fun and spontaneity out of the entire affair. Add to that the gift giving - not that I dislike spending money on people, but mothers and fathers are not the easiest people to buy gifts for, and with birthdays, Mother's/Father's Day and Christmas, that's more gifts for them than just about anyone else you know!

But what are the alternatives? I don't want to look like an asshole, so I'll continue to honor the holiday. Plus, I actually do like my parents, and I don't really mind the trouble. I just don't like to feel as though I didn't have any choice in the matter. But like parenthood, being a child of a competent parent has its costs. If you didn't want to go through the trouble of buying a gift for mother and father three times a year, then you shouldn't have had parents in the first place.

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