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Behind Oklahoma City Father’s Day: a Checkered History & Reality

As has become traditional on the third Sunday in June, Oklahoma City fathers can look forward to being honored and fussed over. For most families, Father’s Day in Oklahoma City is considered to be every bit as important a celebration as Mother’s Day. At least that’s what most families pretend. But there are two basic reasons why it’s usually an uphill battle.

First, there’s the checkered history. Then, there’s the reality.

HISTORY: Mother’s Day got the jump on Father’s Day because, starting in 1905, its zealous originator (Anna Jarvis) wouldn’t give up on the idea. Because the holiday was dreamed up right at the start of the 20th century, men were exclusively in charge of the calendar and holidays. Since they were men and because telephones were only starting to be installed, most of them had neglected to call their mothers often enough. So when Jarvis pointed out that they had better recognize “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” the men mumbled that they agreed—and Mother’s Day became a national holiday. Then Hallmark got wind of the idea. The rest is history.

Father’s Day, on the other hand, got its start five years later (in 1910). But it was promoted by Sonora Dodd, who was less zealous than Jarvis. In fact, when Dodd went off to college, she forgot about the idea for a while. It was only in the 30s that she resumed her promotion of a Father’s Day holiday. Then Hallmark got wind of the idea. The rest is history.

REALITY: Regardless of whether or not it’s fair, Mother’s Day has always been taken a notch or two more seriously than Father’s Day—possibly because it’s impossible to resist the idea that mothers deserve to get a day off. (Try arguing against that and you’ll be sent to your room). Everybody knows that from the start, mothers have a harder time than fathers. If you don’t agree, please recall what took place on the day you were born. Fathers’ level of participation during that occasion was optional; not so mothers.

Additionally, the traditional stereotype for fathers is that they are less sentimental—so the Hallmark cards have fewer flowers on them. If so, when you forget to shop for a Father’s Day gift until the last minute, fathers are not supposed to care much. This is a purely sexist argument, but many fathers have learned to pretend it’s true. Even Wikipedia says that all you have to get for Father’s Day is a necktie or “something mechanical.”

Here in Oklahoma City, Father’s Day celebrations may involve letting Dad watch sports on TV, go golfing, or generally just goof off. The best part will be if the family can gather ‘round to let the Old Man be proud of them. But if he can’t be there, it’s a day to doubly recall why Father’s Day really is a day that deserves to be celebrated!

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