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Follow These Simple Rules For A Perfect Father’s Day


Father’s Day approaches, and sons and daughters across the nation are wondering what to give their paterfamilias. I bring good news: no money need be spent on a bathrobe, a necktie, or a pair of slippers. All that’s needed for this one day for dad are a few costless behavioral changes.

If your home is like mine, various “dad rules” exist which, on every other day, are honored only in the breach. On Father’s Day, they are the supreme law of the land. Following them, or analogous ones in your own home, is sure to make the holiday memorable for your pops.

You will hear certain songs — “Pancho and Lefty,” “Carefree Highway,” “Lonesome L.A. Cowboy,” “Sugaree,” and “Garden Party,” to name a few — playing in the house all day long. Make peace with this, and don’t even think of changing the tunes. Some day your own kids won’t appreciate your impeccable musical taste either.

Although it will be hot outside, and the need in modern times to relay critical information across vast distances using the horizon remains small, allow me to keep a signal fire blazing in the firepit well into the night. Also, indulge me when I praise the virtues of gathering kindling, specifically, of you kids gathering kindling.

Pretend each childhood story I tell, especially those featuring Uncle Jack, as well as every joke involving gorillas are being heard for the very first time. And no eye-rolls all day; this one is non-negotiable. If at any point you find yourself saying “Sure, dad, I’d love to play a game of chess,” know you’re living good in the neighborhood.

Kindly return every T-shirt you’ve liberally borrowed from me over the years. Yes, I’d like them back, but what I’d really like is to stop searching for them with the intensity and result of Lady Macbeth washing her hands. Amnesty will be granted, but first you must come clean.  

When inane conversation topics like “the breakfast draft” come up, be willing participants who offer clear thinking that is articulated well, even though the science is settled that the top three draft picks are French toast first, pancakes second, and waffles third.  

Offer to watch “Rudy,” “Hoosiers,” or “Chariots of Fire” with me, start to finish. Agree it’s normal for a grown man to bawl at certain points in each film (specifically, here, here, and here). You don’t have to cry. Fake tears would be gilding the lily. Besides, you’re my kids. You’ll cry soon enough.

Following these rules, or your family’s version of them, will ensure a first-rate Father’s Day. One last thing: If anyone brings me my morning coffee and starts the conversation with, “We lost a true poet in Gordon Lightfoot last year,” that would be the icing on cake. Specifically, carrot cake.

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