Fathers’ Day isn’t always about the idyllic childhood or the perfect nuclear family. Not everyone has a fathers’ day story worthy of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
The lucky among us (including me) celebrate and remember the strong men that were positive influences in our lives. We give the ubiquitous tie or black socks to replace the ones that the washing machine ate to the men we love. We barbecue dad’s favorite meat on the grill. And yes, we spend time at the card shop deliberating.
There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s wonderful. But not everyone shares the Hallmark card rendition of the holiday. Sometimes the Fathers’ Day story plotlines have taken an unexpected turn. Other times they’ve gone totally off road.
Alternate Fathers’ Day Stories (and Back Stories)
Is your fathers’ day story a little different from the greeting card norm? What would you tell a perfect stranger about your father?
Recently my sister met a woman with an unusual fathers’ day story. Fathers’ Day itself—with the family get together and grilling—is a new story for her, despite the fact that she’s grown and married. And not all of it is pretty.
Her father was incarcerated when she was a newborn. Though only 17, he was charged as an adult and sentenced to serve 25 years to life. Surprisingly (at least to me), she and her dad have always enjoyed a good relationship. Throughout the 20 odd years he was behind bars, he called his daughter every night. And he was paroled just in time to give her away at the altar.
As she told this narrative, she left out the nature of his crime. For her, that wasn’t the gist of the story. Her fathers’ day story was about her father’s dedication to her and his love for her despite his circumstances. Celebrating Fathers’ Day with him isn’t a repeat of a childhood ritual. It’s a new tradition that she’s happily building with him.
Sometimes the story isn’t about what happened. Sometimes it’s the rest of the story. In the case of the young woman above, there’s a great story in the young mom that supported and enabled the father-daughter relationship.
According to my sister, your fathers’ day story is what you choose to get out of the story, whether you harp on the slights or whether you appreciate the hardships and sacrifices.
She might be right. She’s right about
most a lot of things. (She’s a lawyer, so I didn’t want to set a precedent with that “most.”) On the other hand, I believe you feel how you feel. It’s your story, even if we’re calling it a Fathers’ Day story. Only you can interpret whether you’re nursing an over-sensitive ego or dealing with hurt. And, writing it can be part of making that determination. LDC’s post I hate Fathers’ Day demonstrates how expressive and moving heartache can be.
The reality is that not every story ends with “happily ever after.” Sometimes the Band-Aids just need to be ripped off. Again, that’s your decision. Will fresh air help the healing?
So, whatever your Fathers’ Day story looks and feels like, tell it. Share it. It’s part of your story, as well.
How is your fathers’ day story different? Hard to tell? Important to share?