Father's Day

Father's Day Gifts Best from Hand or Heart
by Sam Johnson

     This Sunday, June 19th marks the 101st anniversary of Father's Day.
     June 1910 was the first time Father's Day was held, though it didn't become an official U.S. holiday until 1972.
     The actual origin of Father's Day is not clear.

History of Father's Day
     There is some suggestion that the concept of "a special day that celebrates the contributions that fathers and father figures make for their children's lives" comes from a 1908 memorial service held for a large group of miners, many of them fathers, who were killed in a mining accident in West Virginia the previous year.
     Some say the tradition of Father's Day began as a complimentary celebration to Mother's Day, which was first recognized in 1908 as the result of the work of Anna Jarvis who pushed for the Mother's Day recognition.
     Apparently, Sonora Smart Dodd was inspired by the work of Jarvis and wanted to see similar recognition given to fathers.
    The story goes that after Sonora Smart Dodd's mother passed away, her father raised Sonora and her five brothers and sisters by himself. This was unheard of at the time, as most widowers were socially forced to place their young children in the care of another woman, by either turning them over to a female relative or friend, placing them in an orphanage, or by immediately remarrying so the children would have a new mother. 

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   Sonora's father defied the norm and raised all six of his children by himself. Sonora felt her father deserved recognition for what he had done, and inspired by the success of Anna Jarvis, was able to garner support for a Father's Day recognition in 1910. 

     During the years that followed, several attempts were made to make Father's Day an official U.S. holiday with national recognition. In 1913 a bill was introduced in Congress calling for a national recognition holiday for Father's Day, but it failed to advance. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official, but Congress re

fused to pass it fearing the day would become "a commercialization."
     In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge pushed for a national day of observation for Father's Day, but failed to issue an official proclamation. Several other attempts in following years also failed.
     It wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, by designation the third Sunday in June to be officially proclaimed as "Father's Day." Then in 1972 Congress finally passed a law making it an official and permanent U.S. holiday.

Commercialization of Father's Day
     Early on, there was strong interest in commercializing Father's Day.
     Merchants took advantage of the annual Father's Day recognition by promoting the sale of men's clothing, and in 1938 the Associated Men's Wear Retailers even renamed the National Father's Day Committee in New York City to the "National Council for the Promotion of Father's Day" with the goal of boosting sales of men's clothing.

     And it worked!
     Each year, the commercial merchandizing of Father's Day grew, and grew, and grew, so that by the end of the twentieth century the retailer's "National Council for the Promotion of Father's Day" could proclaim that they had achieved their goal: the one-day event had become a three-week commercial event, a "second Christmas."
     One hundred years later, it seems little has changed.
     It seems Father's Day is more revered and heralded by the makers of men's clothing (neckties especially), hardware and tool shops, electronics stores, sporting goods, and the "Big Box" retailers, than by fathers themselves.
     For weeks now we have been bombarded with commercials, advertisements, and special Father's Day promotions cajoling us to "Give Dad the best ," and to "remember Dad on his special day with a gift from . . ." and so on.
Father's Day in the Johnson Family
     Well, I'm not buying it, and don't want KatyAnna or Mary Ann to buy into it either.
     Instead, I want them to follow "the Johnson Family Father's Day Tradition."
     You see, growing up we never purchased presents for Dad on Father's Day, for we knew that if we did, he would be disappointed and view it as a betrayal of his teachings.
     "Don't buy me anything for Father's Day," he would say in his gruff voice.
     "Save your money. I have no use for more 'things.' Besides, anything I might need or want I can get for a fraction of the cost at the Thrift Shop. If I want more neckties I can get them for two-bits a bagful -- in assorted colors, sizes, and styles, too!" he would chuckle.
     "No, don't buy me anything for Father's Day," he would say. "It's just another gimmick by the merchants to get you to spend my hard earned money."
     "However, if you want to GIVE me something for Father's Day," he said, his voice softening, "then MAKE me something, or give me some help around the house, or help your mother and each other a little more. I'd really appreciate that."
    And so each Father's Day, we'd make him something -- cookies, a cake, a magazine rack, a drawing, a painting, a poem, a song, and of course, handmade Father's Day cards inscribed with special messages of love and appreciation as well as promises to BE good and to DO good.
    And he always smiled when we gave him these things.
    So that's what I'm hoping for this Father's Day -- something made with the hand or with the heart, and a promise to continue to do good.

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