Giving Dad his day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2003

Contrary to popular belief, the Father’s Day holiday really isn’t just one more clever invention of the greeting card (and possibly tie manufacturing) industry.

There’s actually a great woman behind this holiday, one who wanted to honor her very special dad.

How did it begin?

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Sonora Smart Dodd’s father, William Smart, was a Civil War veteran.

He was widowed when his wife (Sonora’s mother) died in childbirth with the couple’s sixth child.

Smart went on to raise the newborn and the five other children by himself on the family’s farm in eastern Washington State.

Sonora came to realize how much strength and selflessness her father had always displayed as a single parent.

She wanted very much to honor him and other dads.

In 1909 she began a campaign to create a ‘father’s day’ to be celebrated in June—the month of her father’s birthday.

The first Father’s Day was observed in Spokane, Washington in 1910. Other cities and towns across the country began celebrating their own versions of Father’s Day.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day, but it wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation officially designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

Mother’s Day tends to get more hoopla, but Father’s Day should definitely not be overlooked.

The holiday should be a time to honor all the men who act as a much-needed father figure in our life—step dads, uncles, grandfathers, foster dads and other adult male role models including coaches, teachers, counselors and family friends.

A good &uot;dad&uot; is truly something to treasure!

&uot;How should we celebrate?&uot;

We’ve already mentioned the ubiquitous tie, the gift so many dad receive (whether they want it or not).

Many of us feel guys are tougher to buy for than gals—so what DO they want?

Kevin and Whitman Kramer of Forest Home note the best gifts are often the ones you can’t buy in the store.

&uot;[Dads love] hugs and kisses, lots of ‘I love yous’…actually hearing ‘I’m glad you’re my dad.’

Something made by the children that is really heartfelt, especially if they are younger [is a great gift],&uot; the Kramers say.

&uot;Time&uot; is the best gift, notes Johnna Pitts of Greenville. &uot;Go fishing or to the races or a ballgame with them…do something that lets them know they are appreciated. Clean up the garage…mow the grass or clean the windows of the house.

&uot;It’s too easy to buy something—and unless it’s something they have really been pining for-it won’t be appreciated nearly so much,&uot; she adds.

Kathy Atchison of the Sandcut Community says her husband John prefers &uot;visits, telephone calls and hugs from the girls—beyond that, give him a tool.&uot;

So there it is.

Time, attention, the personal touch—that’s what Dads crave the most for their special day.

Here are some other heartfelt ideas for Dad that won’t cost you an arm and a leg (after all, didn’t Dad teach you money doesn’t grow on trees?).

You can bake cookies, muffins or other favorite munchies, polish his shoes, create a handmade card or note (no matter what your age, he’ll love it!), fix a homemade dinner, take him out to a favorite restaurant or create a montage of favorite old family photographs.

And by all means, take photos of Dad and the family together on Father’s Day—it’s a wonderful memento you’ll treasure in the years to come. Happy Father’s Day!