June 21, 2012
As, I reflected on the celebration of Father’s Day last Sunday, I thought about what that day should really mean. But, before I could do that, I had to find out where that day came from.
Father’s Day was a direct derivative of Mother’s Day; but the reason for their creation was polar opposite of each other. Mother’s Day was created with the expressed mandate of not being turned into a “commercial” day while Father’s Day was created with the expressed purpose of being a “commercial” day.
Anna Jarvis was credited with being the founder of Mother’s Day. Her mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, had founded Mother’s Day Work Clubs in 1868 to improve sanitary and health conditions at both Union and Confederate camps, treat the wounded, and to feed and clothe both Union and Confederate soldiers.
On May 12, 1907, two years after her mother’s death, Anna held a memorial service in honor of her mother, thus began her crusade to officially recognize Mother’s Day. On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Father’s Day was created by Sonora Smart Dodd. When she was 16, her mother died in childbirth. Being the only daughter, she was given the responsibility of raising her 5 brothers.
One day, Sonora was in church and the sermon was about Mother’s Day. She thought that fathers should also be recognized. The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. The day became so popular that in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was the featured speaker at the Father’s Day celebration in Spokane that year. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day. In 1972, President Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father's Day to be held on the 3rd Sunday of June each year.
Shortly after its celebration had started, Mother’s Day had become so commercial that Jarvis said she, “…wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control… A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
She was arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while protesting against the commercialization of Mother’s Day. She died in poverty, spending all of her inheritance fighting against the very day she had created.
According to industry reports, Mother's Day is now one of the most commercially successful American occasions, having become the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States and generating a significant portion of the U.S. jewelry industry's annual revenue, from custom gifts like mother's rings. Americans spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards.
Father’s Day, however was opposed by the general public as an imitation of Mother’s Day (which it was) and viewed strictly as a commercial celebration. It took fierce lobbying by the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to change public opinion. In the mid-80s, the Council stated, “Father’s Day has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”
With this as a backdrop, the best gift you can give a mother or a father is the gift of time. Mother and Father’s Day have become so commercial that it has lost its true meaning.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with former ambassador, Gregory W. Slayton to discuss his new book titled, “Be A Better Dad Today (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_W._Slayton).”
According to Slayton, “he is an author, businessman, diplomat, philanthropist, professor, but more importantly, a father of four great kids.” His book is an easy read from the prospective of a regular father who is sharing practical lessons learned from his own personal journey. His personal wealth has no bearing on his parenting. Financially, he had the wherewithal to shower his kids with every material thing imaginable, but he decided that spending time with them was the best gift he could give.
So, to those who want a fresh take on fatherhood, “Be A Better Dad Today” is a great read!
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. His website is: www.raynardjackson.com.