Sunday, September 4, 2016

Valiant Resistence to Father's Day

The first attempt to establish fathers’ day (in 1908)
Was overshadowed by a hot air balloon show and circus performers.
These took over the headlines, and the fathers
(Those left alive after a nearby coal mining disaster)
Showed more interest in the aerial acrobatics and the strong man act
Than in a church service organised in their honour.

The formidable Jane Addams tried to get in on the act a few years later,
But although she managed to found the profession of social work in the US,
And later won the Nobel Prize for Peace,
She couldn’t get Fathers’ Day going.
When she proposed a city-wide celebration of fathers in Chicago,
The people in charge (fathers, for the most part) said, in a word, no.

Jane Addams, not happy
In 1957, a female senator from Maine,
Observing that Mothers’ Day had been going strong for forty years,
Accused Congress of “the worst possible oversight…
Perpetrated against the gallant fathers… of our land…”
“As a daughter, as a woman, and as a United States Senator,”
She declared the lack of Fathers’ Day, “the most grievous insult imaginable.”

The men of Congress appear to have united in ignoring this.
They “gallantly” held out held out for another 15 years.
But in 1972, Fathers’ Day finally became a national US holiday,
And from this year onwards, fathers across the land
Were forced to stop work, and accept soap-on-a-rope
and other mildly insulting gifts, on an annual basis.

It is not clear precisely when and how this blow to American manhood spread…
To Australia. Here, at least, there has been
No suggestion of a public holiday.
An internet search reveals the counterfactual but valiant statement
That father’s day in Australia originated in pagan sun worship,
And recommended gifts include swimming with whale sharks.

In deference to the fact that when I was born
Father’s Day wasn’t really a thing, even in the US,
This year I have refrained from purchasing soap-on-a-rope
Or buying into any other American claptrap.
I’ll simply say, you’re a top bloke, Dad.
(And if you want to swim with whale sharks, just let me know.)

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