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Holidays in America: Father’s Day

Father’s Day is always the third Sunday in June. In 2021, this puts it on June 20. Like Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day isn’t a federal holiday, but is widely celebrated.

Father’s Day began in 1910, two years after the first official celebration of Mother’s Day in the U.S. Sonora Smart Dodd, inspired by how her widower father rose to the challenge of parenting six children alone, thought there should be a special day to recognize dads as well as moms. She went to local churches, shopkeepers, and government officials to garner support for her idea, which culminated in the first statewide celebration in Washington State.

These days, traditions vary from family to family, but often involve grilling large amounts of meat (chicken and vegetables are acceptable, but the stereotype is all beef, whether steaks, hot dogs, or hamburgers). The tradition in my family is to go to a baseball game, though we don’t always go on Father’s Day itself, depending on both our schedules and when our local teams are playing.

When it comes to gifts for Dad, ties were once a standard gift, but are much less so now, as business casual dress has become more common in the workplace. Other popular gift idea include books, grilling tools and seasonings, gadgets for car or computer, and sports memorabilia.

For some fun read-aloud Father’s Day books, check out The Night Before Father’s Day, a rhyming picture book that shows a family cleaning out the garage, washing the car, etc. in appreciation for their dad. Made for Me is a love letter from a large, burly man to his beloved child.

The previous two are obviously aimed at kids, but Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama, is an amazing story that dads will enjoy. This moving memoir begins with Obama learning of his father’s death, then traveling to Kenya to meet his father’s family, where he considers questions of identity, class, and race.

A Little Book About My Awesome Dad is a fun take on a gift book, with prompts for kids to fill in their own words. The prompts include “My favorite thing about my Dad is . . ” and “He is funny when he . . .” This kind of unique, utterly personal gift is the kind of thing that dads will treasure.

There are more than 70 million dads in the United States, and they play a big part in our lives. Celebrating them in particular is a wonderful experience!

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