Today in the US, we’re celebrating Father’s Day. It’s an opportunity to pay tribute to the men in our lives, be they husbands, fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, mentors, or simply friends. As I did a bit of background research this morning to uncover the origins of the holiday, I learned that many men scoffed at the idea of Father’s Day. Although I wasn’t able to find the name of the historian reporting this, I did come across a rather amusing bit of information:
As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”
For the record, economists estimate that Americans now spend approximately $1 billion each year celebrating the holiday. So, fellows, like it or not, you’re getting gifts. Yes, you’re probably also paying for them. Did anyone say life was fair? Remember, it’s the thought that counts.
I was a bit disappointed this year as I shopped for the perfect Father’s Day card for my husband. Some were too sweet, too sentimental. Others were too silly. Finally I settled on a simple one.
For My Husband…My Forever Love
The best thing that can happen to a person is to find real love…
That’s why the best thing that ever happened to me was you.
Each year as Father’s Day approaches, I spend time thinking not only about the men who have played a part in my life, but about the fictional fathers I’ve created in my stories. Sadly, I haven’t treated them too kindly.
In Irresistible, poor Mr. Childers is deceased. He’s left the world before the story begins, and his death has cast a pall upon his daughter.
It’s worse still in Happily Ever After. George has lost his father, and Anne’s father is a wife-beater. She recalls hiding under the covers as a child, frightened, but not knowing what to do.
Dick Sparks, the father in Summertime, is a good man at heart, but he has his share of problems — especially a problem with his attention-seeking daughter, Linnie Mae. There are reasons behind his withdrawn nature, and over the course of the summer, Linnie Mae struggles to accept her father and their strained relationship.
Of course, it’s not my personal opinions about fathers and fatherhood that dictate such cruelty on my part. It’s more the demands of fiction that require conflicts, complex relationships between characters, and which consequently offer opportunities for redemption, forgiveness, and personal growth. Even at their worst, fictional fathers help their offspring learn important lessons about life and love.
Many questions arise about the relationship between fathers and their children. I’m now exploring many of those questions in my writing through the stories of the “Sunset Series“.
- Must a young woman obey her father’s wishes when they conflict with her own desires?
- Does a father have the right to make choices for his children?
- How can fathers see faults in others yet not recognize those faults in their own children?
- Should an abusive father be forgiven?
- Will a son naturally follow in his father’s footsteps?
Questions of home, family values, respect, honor, love, and obedience all play important roles in the stories of fictional fathers and ther children. Many times these questions are part of real life, as well. A father’s influence is strong, indeed.