June 17, 2013

Quick Thoughts Concerning Manly Men and (specifically) Fathers

Did you check facebook, twitter, or instagram yesterday? It was super fun: everyone posted photos of their fathers back-in-the-day, confirming my belief (not original) that dads are the Original Hipsters. I even posted a couple photos of my dad -- his high-school graduation photo with (yes!) a ruffled tuxedo, and a photo of him from the 80's in a killer rugby shirt (can someone-not-J.-Crew bring those back?) reading the paper. That's Dad above, with Mom, dressed up as ninjas for halloween when they were first married. (It's a photo of an old photo, hence the poor quality and weird cropping.)

Meanwhile, I was working (I don't typically work Sundays, but I did yesterday). In typical last minute fashion, we decided to do a couple of promotions for Father's Day -- sales on some of our best wines for the Fathers who taught us to "value the finer things." As I was madly setting up the promotions online, it struck me that we approach Father's Day and Mother's Day every differently. For weeks leading up to Mother's Day we were talking about lunch specials and what wine to offer by-the-glass to make mothers feel festive and appreciated. And all the promotions I read online were over-the-top effusive about how wonderful mothers and how much we all love our mothers who are the best people in the world and, lets not forget our grandmothers and the other really important women in our lives who helped shape us and who have always loved us unconditionally. Etc. etc. ad infinitum.

Some of this is due, of course, to the fact that we don't get mushy about our fathers. But there seemed to be a somewhat darker subtext. I could point you to many articles and studies that show that relationships with fathers are rather precarious in the modern age -- and that this is a bad thing. (Brad Wilcox just published one in The Atlantic.) We seem to be afraid to truly celebrate fatherhood, and manliness. If I say I have the best father in the world, is that going to hurt the people I know who don't have fathers at all? Everyone has a mother and very few people grow up without mothers. But many grow up without fathers.

After work, I met up with three of my favorite gentlemen for Sunday dinner, and had a marvelous time. Each of these men has a father, who, either by his presence or his absence, helped form them into the good strong men they are today. And they, in their turn, will make good fathers and good husbands, and are already good friends.

It struck me, riding home from this charming little gathering, how blessed I am know know good, strong men: the three of them, my own father, my brother, Sidecar, of course, and JSA, the fathers of my godchildren, the men who (recently or not-so-recently) won the hearts of my girl-friends and married them.  All these men will someday be called "the greatest Dad in the world" and their children will be right. Let us treasure fatherhood! Let us treasure manliness! Let us love the good and the strong men who strive for their families, their friends, their neighbors, for Christ.

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