Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

I have mixed emotions about both Father's Day and Mother's day. In fact, I have the same mixed emotions about celebrating birthdays. Sure, it's a great opportunity for retailers to sell more stuff, and it seems like a good idea to set aside a day to honor one's father or mother, or to wish someone you care about a happy birthday, and let those same people know that they are important to you and that you are glad that they are a part of your life. It all sounds like a good idea. But is it really?

People start to have expectations then. "Oh, you forgot my birthday! You must not care about me very much." Or parents get hurt when their children are too busy in their everyday lives to make time for them. Or maybe they just forget all about it. Then the parents are hurt and feel unloved or disrespected, and they either sulk about it, or try to make the kids pay for it by admonishing them and telling them that they are ungrateful children.

I would just advise all people to never fall into any of those types of traps. It is a great waste of emotion and largely meaningless. You don't judge your children by what they do on Father's Day or Mother's Day, and you should never expect any acknowledgement from anybody on your birthday.

I for one was not a model son. I loved my parents a great deal, but I was always preoccupied with my own life, and many times I remember rushing at the last minute to buy my mother flowers and a card; arriving late at the house; signing her card while parked in the driveway; then rushing in giving some excuse as to why I was so late. My mother was easy. Anything I gave her she praised and was happy. My father on the other hand actually punished me once for not buying him a Father's day card. Nevermind that I had spent all of my allowance for two weeks on his present. He said I was a selfish, ungrateful son and grounded me for a week for not also giving him a card. I thought it was very silly at the time, and it caused me to feel less respect for him. In fact, I thought he was being childish and I was in the sixth grade at the time. Nevertheless, it was a source of friction and no good ever seemed to come of such holidays. Those days always seemed like just another chance to screw up and get a lot of grief from whomever's birthday or special day it was.

Therefore, my advice to one and all is this: Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed. You will never be disappointed by a friend or lover or son or daughter, or any other poor soul who might just have forgotten that it was your special day. Or if they were just too busy, or they didn't think you rated any special effort, you will never really care.

On the other hand, if they do take the time and effort to remember you, you can still be delighted by their good will. And you will never feel you have to chastise a son or daughter, brother, sister, or lover for forgetting you.

Hold yourself to a higher standard. Try diligently to honor your father and mother every chance you get. Try to let your friends know just how much you care about them. Nowadays, with all the computer software available, it is much easier to keep track of all those special days. But only hold yourself to that higher standard, and never try to make anyone feel bad if they have done less than you hoped for. If you don't hope or expect, you will be more godly.

After all is said and done, the real joy in this world is giving, not receiving.

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