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Danielle Crittenden

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The Week That Was: Dad, Thanks For Not Embarrassing Us

Posted: 06/16/2012 9:45 pm

Soooo ... on Mother's Day I'm supposed to wake up to lumpy pancakes, handmade cards, and a general, overall worshipful sense in the household that without me everyone would be river orphans. If this doesn't happen, I pretend not be offended, and stoically -- indeed dismissively, in the most good-humoured way -- say that Mother's Day is of no consequence, and it is entirely made up by the Hallmark people to sell cards and other guilt-induced impulse merchandise.

Then, people die.

Father's Day is different, right? As my husband each year asserts, not only is it a holiday entirely made up by the Hallmark people to sell cards and other guilt-induced impulse merchandise -- it's gender-equality gone wild.

Fathers, he will say (and this is his argument, not mine), could care less about Father's Day. And in its own way, he will insist, it's an insult to Mother's Day: For all the cheesy Hallmark-ism of both holidays, mothers are genuinely deserving of shout-out recognition from their children, whereas fathers are merely looking for a way to score a guiltless golf-day or bar-round with their buddies.

This is, I will counter, an old-fashioned, sexist view. Modern fathers change diapers. (Some) modern fathers stay home with their children. There are many, many single fathers keeping it all together. And what about gay couples who can't celebrate Mother's Day?

Fine -- if you want to celebrate it, celebrate it, my husband will concede. He's not going to turn down a free brunch. But the general idea of Mother's Day is for the family to give mothers a rest from their ceaseless domestic duties: However modernized the parenting roles have become, mothers remain the creatures who ensure that their children don't wander into a snowstorm without their mittens; it is still the female sex who -- even while they hold down jobs -- keep the domestic wheels turning smoothly.

So what then should we do to celebrate this day? How can we show our appreciation for our father's contributions to the family? How do we bust through the contrived nature -- the Hallmark-iness -- of the day to recognize our particular father's uniqueness?

This year, our youngest daughter, aged 10, will craft a card -- as she always does. Her older sister, now 20, might decide it's gift enough that she is no longer whitening her father's hair -- and simply say thank you to him for enduring her adolescence. Our middle child, an 18-year-old son -- who turns out to have a talent for cooking -- will plan, shop for and make a special family dinner.

I know my husband will go along with it because, secretly, he doesn't mind the fuss.

And then, as tends to happen on these forced holidays, a kind of sentimental alchemy will take place: The very fact that everyone must takes a moment to appreciate what dad -- this dad -- means to him or her will result in real appreciation. And those few seconds of real appreciation will suffice. Here is our father before us: He may be a super modern dad who underscores at every turn how special and loved we are; or maybe he is less demonstrative, but his silent constancy is what keeps us aloft like an air current. He may have just come back from a tour of duty; he may have just come back from the office. He may have taught us, profoundly, how to show respect for women in the way he treats our mother, or less profoundly, how to ride a two-wheel bike. Maybe he is not the father we would have wished for, or we were not the son or daughter he would have wished for. Maybe he just showed up for us. Didn't, in the end, embarrass us. But he is dad. Our dad. And without him, we would not have the gift of existence.

Happy Father's Day.

***

Last week was a big political week, kicking off with the announcement by Papa Rae that he would not in fact seek the leadership of the Liberal party. Before Justin Trudeau could even tweet the news, our HuffPost contributors were offering reaction -- notably Daniel Veniez, a former Liberal candidate, who had visited with Rae in his office just days before the announcement. Veniez was disappointed in Rae's decision:

We were alone, and he was in a very reflective mood. I left with the sense that he had made up his mind not to seek the permanent leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. His family were united in urging him not to. But the health and well being of the party was dominating his reflection and our conversation.

While I have great respect for his decision, I am disappointed that Bob won't run. With Bob Rae as an active participant in a conversation about the future of Canada and the Liberal Party's place in it, you won't get mindless platitudes or speeches written by someone else. You won't get canned talking points written by someone else. What you get is the sum total of the cumulative wisdom and insight -- with scars and all -- of one of the most substantial political figures of his generation.

More insight and reaction came quickly from Keith Beardsley --"(Liberal) Party's Over for Bob" -- and young Zach Paikin -- "Bob Rae: A Class Act Bows Out Gracefully" -- the latter whom we all expect to see running for the leadership himself one day. Our Politics team swarmed the story as well, with Michael Bolen's quick news story here, Twitter reaction here and Althia Raj's exclusive 1-on-1 interview with Rae here.

And towards the end of the week, while the Tories drove their massive Omnibus Bill C-38 through Parliament, two dissenting MPs -- the NDP's Peggy Nash and Independent Bruce Hyer -- blogged for us about what they were doing to throw it off-course.

Here at HuffPost central, Community Editor Ron Nurwisah has launched our #LoveCanada project, with 25 reasons why this country rocks. Watch for more #LoveCanada leading up to Canada Day on July 1.

Also watch our own rocking Ottawa Bureau Chief, Althia Raj, on CBC's season-ending "At Issue Panel," which looked at the best and worst political plays of the last six months.

On the release of the Canadian labour force survey, award-winning Huffpost reporter Rachel Mendleson took a unique angle -- exploring youth unemployment, which is still as bad as it was at the depths of the recession.

And thanks to Lauren Strapagiel, HuffPost was the first to report on the sky-high cost of food in Canada's north and a fledgling protest there. Her story, with an amazing gallery that showcased outrageous prices for basic food stuffs, can be found here.

But back to Father's Day. If you haven't had enough of Dad yet, check out our
Living and Style teams ramped-up Father's Day coverage with lots of clickable goodies, including fatherhood cartoons, gifts, and fashionable dads.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go give my own father some #LoveDad.

 

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