Friday, June 15, 2012

Does Anyone Buy Ties for Father's Day?

Does Anyone Buy Ties for Father's Day?

Father's Day is coming up. You can tell by the nagging, formulaic ads seen everywhere, "Don't get Dad a tie this Father's Day." Tie makers' sales probably plummet this time of year, because no one has bought a tie on Father's Day since 1973. We've all been bullied into thinking that anyone who gets Dad a tie probably also gave Mom a bunch of headless roses on Mother's Day.

Father's Day is the day we celebrate our dads to thank them for bringing us into existence, and teaching us important things we need to function in life, like riding a bike without training wheels, or understanding why the Designated Hitter rule is stupid.

And it gives rise to one crucial question that everyone asks on the third Sunday of June:

Is it Father's, Father's, or Fathers Day?

I've become convinced that Father's Day — it's possessive, because it's the day for your dad — is in some ways more about assuaging guilt than anything else. And I say this about both dads and their families.

Here's what's supposed to happen: the children bound into their parents' bedroom, bearing burnt toast, runny eggs, and watery coffee. They shower dad with hugs and kisses, and thank him for being the bestest, most awesomest dad in all the world. And tell him all the plans they have, like taking him out to lunch (which he'll pay for), going to see a movie the whole family can enjoy (which is code for, "kids will love it, grownups will want to set themselves on fire"), and then they'll all come home for grilled hamburgers and hot dogs (which he'll cook).

Here's the problem: assuming this picturesque scenario does occur, there's always at least one person who thinks, "Oh crap, it's Father's Day."

Who thinks it depends on how the rest of the year went.

If the dad is a caring dad, who showers his family with love and affection all year long, who goes to family friendly movies (and silently cries at the end), who shares in the household chores, then he's the one lamenting the arrival of Father's Day, because it's the one day he was hoping he could have all to himself.

To watch a baseball game on TV and fall asleep on the couch. Go out for drinks with the guys. Go to a restaurant and eat a steak without comments about cholesterol. Instead, it's just another regular day, only he gets presents.

But if the dad works a lot, pursues his hobbies on the weekend, and only gets to see his kids a couple hours a day (or every other weekend plus Wednesday nights), then it's the rest of the family having the "oh crap" moment, because they forgot to get anything for him, and all that talk about lunch, movies, and hot dog dinners are the best they could come up with, since he doesn't want another gas station car freshener like last year.

I say all this as a geek dad who revels in his family, spending as much time with them as possible, and teaching them family traditions that will carry on to the next generation, like how to mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, and how to work the TV and make breakfast so I can sleep in on Saturday mornings.

And I actually enjoy Father's Day, because the day really is all about me. I get to be the reason for the stuff we do, rather than doing something "the whole family will enjoy."

When I was a kid, I remember arguing with my mom about "why isn't there a Kids' Day?!" thinking that we never got a special day to celebrate our stuff.

"You do!" shouted my mom. "It's every day of the year."

I always thought that was pretty dumb, until I had kids of my own. Then I saw what my wife and I do for them, and watch the things they get to do. And I realized my mom was right, every day IS kids' day.

As parents, we all watch the shows they want to watch, eat the foods they can/will eat, take the vacations they'll enjoy, and buy the cars they'll be safe and comfortable in. We don't do things for ourselves, because we do them for our kids.

So this year, like every year, I'm going to make sure that Father's Day is my bestest, most awesomest day ever. We're finally going to do all the stuff I wanted to do, like watch a baseball game together, eat whatever I want for dinner, and take a long — uh oh, I forgot to get my dad a present.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My latest book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or get it for the Kindle or Nook.


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