It’s that time of year again when we all gear up to celebrate those lumbering patriarchs in our lives, and writers everywhere create “essential” Father’s Day gift guides filled with leather gloves and weekend bags, in which the only truly essential thing seems to be a half-hearted joke about ties.
I thought I’d get in on the fun and offer my own take on gifts to what to give your husband on father’s day, and I have a hunch that this will be the REAL essential gift guide because it doesn’t involve any purchases like cologne or barbecue tools ( or..wait for it…ties! ZING!) Not purchasing anything is terribly good for the environment, and also for your relationship, as you shall deduce from #6.
Carry on then.
Sweet Madeleine’s Essential Father’s Day Gift Guide for Your Husband
1. First of all, ditch the card. Do men give cards? I mean, to other men? This is the barometer, you see. Men don’t give other men cards, and that should tell us that they really don’t care about them. Cards are just another step between them and presents.
Any card I’ve ever given Adam was essentially just a $6 fart joke, opened and briefly grunted at before flying in the general direction of the recycling bin.
But in case you think that your man might miss something to open and grunt at, and on the behalf of my men like my brother – who abhors sweeping generalizations and truly does appreciate a good card – I’d bet that a sweet handwritten letter filled with sentiments of your own choosing, rather than Hallmark’s, would mean much more.
2. Eschew tangible gifts. Some holidays, like Christmas, pretty much require gifts. Other, lesser holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Valentines day etc. can be a fantastic way to teach children that love & money don’t go hand in hand. Especially pertinent because children tend to have an abundance of the former and basically none of the latter.
Teaching young children that expressions of love don’t have to have a price tag is one of the best gifts that you as a parent can give. Ask your children to draw a picture, write a note, or perform an act of service for their dad. Ask them to come up with an activity he enjoys that they don’t often participate in. Teach them to give out, instead of giving stuff.
3. A life on display. One of the finest gifts I can think of for at least two dads I know would be the exquisite privilege having the detritus of their lives visible upon the kitchen counter for the duration of Father’s Day. I will not pretend to understand why it is so important that the used-twice-a-year measuring tape, or collection of three beer caps, a pen top and a crumpled receipt be strewn about my food preparation area in plain sight of everyone, but it is. So I have been told. Repeatedly.
Usually this shit cluttering up my surfaces gets banished to its rightful resting place in the recycling bin/trash but as a special treat, once or twice a year I let Adam’s crap rest where he leaves it. (I am a giver. Never forget.)
I invite you to follow my generous example and this Father’s Day, allow the man in your life to proudly empty his pockets around the house. You might also invite the children to admire his leavings as they would in a museum or art gallery, and then photograph the occasion so he can look back on it throughout the year with the sort of reverence you reserve for gazing at pictures of your kids as newborns.
4. Let him reconnect. I suspect that many men who do not get to share in the day-to-day delights of child-rearing truly miss having the the opportunity to quell a tantrum, sanitize a tiny behind thoroughly coated in poop, and prepare dinner while having barely coherent epithets and sticky cheerios lobbed at their person.
How could you not? Be gracious, and share these experiences.
Allow your man to truly reconnect with his children like he no doubt desperately wishes he could. Don’t take no for an answer- insist. This is HIS special day, after all.
5. Laugh at his jokes. Yes, all of them. Retire the withering stare, as well as what my husband affectionately (?) calls “The Face”, and just laugh.
Laugh at the corny ones, the cheesy ones, the long winded, circuitous, rambling ones that have to be stopped and re-started three different times before finally meandering to a gently disappointing punchline.
Take a moment to look at this magnificent man-beast before you and acknowledge that his greatest wish in life is to make you laugh in front of his children. Let him.
6. Celebrate his type of fatherhood. This (along with #2 I suppose) is the only remotely useful item on this list. I’m sorry/you’re welcome.
Many men have their own unique style of parenting. And yes, some might call it “irresponsible” or “nothing but eating Doritos and watching bad movies”, or “getting the kids worked up right before bedtime AGAIN jesus christ” but to them, this is their thing. This is how they demonstrate love for their kids and my god can’t you just let the dude have one day? ONE DAY.
This means no brunch. No photos. Pants optional.
Be honest, without the man in your life providing some much need levity and chaos, your life – and thus the lives of your offspring- is just…boring. Everything is where it should be. Your days chugs along in an orderly and well-timed pace like a train running neatly along its tracks. But the dads jump the tracks. They career across wild open spaces, discover new lands, leave everyone breathless and jumpy with excitement. It’s a fine balance and we need both the order and the chaos for a full life (in the interest of not stereotyping gender roles I now acknowledge that in your house it may be reversed, but the same general idea applies).
On Father’s Day try your best to let go of your idea of how things should be, and honour this balance. See if you can find time to integrate the madness throughout the rest of the year, too.
The reason I think this is so important is that each time I feel myself getting annoyed with Adam for doing things like getting Olive all wound up right before bed time, I try to remember moments like this, which happened well after she should have been asleep.
I will remember this night infinitely better than the fifteen that preceded it when she went to bed at 7:30 on the dot without interference.
Happy Father’s Day, husbands! We love you, and your madcap antics, too.