Updated: Jun 12
Poor old Dads. While Mum and the kids take centre stage, Dad is faffing around in the background trying to do something useful like banging a nail into a plank of wood, untangling extension leads or jumping around the BBQ with a fire extinguisher putting out the sausages. He’s the silent hero.
Mum and the kids take all the glory and attention, and I suppose in many respects, they should. Dad, meanwhile, keeps his head down and does his thing. His thing, of course, varies from family to family. While the school run is a joy for one, it’s a trip to hell and back for another. Does he get any recognition for all his efforts? Going by the card industry’s facts and figures, we all don’t think so.
Less important, less spent on Dads.
According to the GCA (Greeting Card Association) in 2019 about £46m was spent on Father’s Day cards – nearly 27 million of the blighters. That’s a lot of money and a lot of cards, though it pales in comparison with what was spent on Mother’s Day cards, and is a spit in the ocean compared to the £1.7 billion spent overall on cards in 2019.
When I was growing up I don’t remember Father’s Day being a Dad thing. I don’t think my Dad thought it was either. And my Mum never mentioned it so it can't have been a Dad thing.
In them olden days when everything was in black and white, a Dad did things slightly differently. A Dad would toddle off early to work, return home just in time for tea, poke at the grey cabbage on his plate, read a paper, puff on a pipe, have a nice late night mug of cocoa, then lumber off to bed. And if the nag priced at 14/1 won at Kempton Park that afternoon he would have been in a good enough mood to pop into the kids’ room and pat them on their heads and say toodle-pip. Mum, meanwhile, was downstairs scraping the grey cabbage into the bin. Life was simpler then. Or maybe it was simply plain dull. Like grey cabbage.
Father’s Day - a new concept. Sort of.
Father’s Day only came into existence in the USA in 1910, and was essentially a follow-on from Mother’s Day, though it has always been celebrated with less enthusiasm, mainly because whatever the father received was paid by him. Ungrateful sod.
It was made an official US national holiday only as recently as 1972 by that well-known upright family man known for his honesty and integrity, President Richard Nixon, just as he was signing off another job hidden at the bottom of his out tray called the “Let’s bug the Democratic headquarters but keep my name out of it.”
Father’s Day has always met resistance. I suppose commercialism over recent years has a lot to do with it. Any way to make a buck, eh? No doubt over the coming weeks until 20 June the world will be pushing like hell to grab that pound from your contactless card. There’ll be big card companies doing their clichéd TV ads and irritating pop-ups, shops with fancy window displays with dreadful puns, and card publishers like myself, selling their wares on social media or wherever they can because it’s our business.
But here’s the thing: this year could be better for Dads.
Covid – the saviour of the Dad?
This past year has seen millions of families being squashed together and laying low because they had to. Within lockdown there was much mayhem and trauma punctuated by periods of ennui. As yet, no family has killed each other. This is a good thing.
All this home schooling and getting on each other’s nerves has made us realise that everyone is equal and that we all have to do our bit. Amazingly, everyone has done their bit, including Dad. I think the rest of his family will recognise this and cheer up the old fart with a meaningful card. And maybe his kids will promise to make him a wonderful Full Monty but in their enthusiasm forget the eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and fried bread.
Whatever they give him, it’ll be done with love, and he’ll be truly touched and thankful, even if his breakfast turns out to be a piece of burnt toast topped with a teaspoon of Alphabetti spaghetti. Mothers have had their day this year and it was a good one too. Now it's Dad’s turn on 20 June. So come on you non-Dad people, three cheers for Dad!
Keep up the good work, Dad. Mind you don’t hit your thumb with that hammer.