TND – A Multiplicity of Fathers

June 15, 2012

I feel like Dads get short changed when it comes to Father’s Day. Mother’s Day always seems to allow for a multiplicity of kinds of mothers. Marketers seem to understand that not all mothers are the same – some like breakfast in bed, some want to be allowed to shower and dress before brunch, or want a picnic lunch halfway through an athletic hike, or just want to be taken out to a nice dinner. Some mothers will enjoy being sent flowers, and some will appreciate books. Mothers – it seems – come in all shape and sizes and temperaments.

Fathers, on the other hand, are apparently all cut from the same cloth in the minds of marketers. Fathers, apparently, want beer and power tools. They want beer to drink, beer to marinate the meat that will then be grilled for them (or by them – possibly with new grill tools), and beer in their desserts. It goes without saying that they don’t want to eat a vegetable, not even a grilled one (although possibly if it were soaked in beer . . .). They want to receive (apparently) drills and saws and sanders, with a minor exception carved out for sharp pointy tools that they can use to poke things on the grill.

I personally have seen my father drink beer maybe twice in my life – although having said that I cannot quite picture under what circumstance that would have occurred. I know I’ve seen him sipping Heineken from a glass, but my memory (and imagination) are failing me when it comes to picturing why. My parents, as far as I know, don’t currently own a grill, and if memory serves have only owned one once in their married lives for the approximately two years we lived in Old Greenwich when I was in elementary school (and now I’m wondering if they bought it with the house, because I can’t imagine why else they would have gone out and bought one, I can only remember it being used once). Also, generally speaking we don’t encourage my father to think outside the bread and cheese box when it comes to preparing food. I’ve seen what he can do to an egg, and it’s something no self-respecting egg should have to endure (my father more than makes up for this by providing excellent pre-dinner conversation while you cook, and always helps clean up). And, since it’s my mother who has always been responsible for figuring out how to secure picture hangers in plaster covered cinder block walls, rewiring light sockets, and repairing ant infested hand mixers, power tools would be somewhat lost on my father.

Admittedly my father – who requests (and receives) a calendar with reproductions of antique maps for Christmas every year, and genuinely enjoys being given things which might be loosely termed les arts de la table – is possibly an outlier in this landscape of fathers. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my roommate’s father drink a beer, and he’s far more likely to appreciate a physics toy than a set of box wrenches.

I also confess that I would not know what to do with a father who grilled, drank beer, and used power tools – what on earth would we talk about at dinner? It does, however, mean that I am always somewhat at a loss as to what to give him for things like Father’s Day (or birthdays), and the suggestion lists that crop up in my email from amazon, or scroll across my screen when reading the Boston Globe in the morning, are never very helpful.

If he lived closer than 3,600 miles (5,900 km), I’d probably make him a nice dinner, and given that Father’s Day (in the US) falls in the middle of June it probably wouldn’t be a beer based stew which is pretty much the only way I can imagine serving my father beer for dinner. However, he lives on the other side of the Atlantic so that solution is not terribly feasible. This generally means that while I (usually) manage to get a card emailed on time, actual presents tend to arrive at any point between now and September depending on when I manage to find something that I think he’ll really appreciate and enjoy. I don’t believe in giving presents for the sake of having something wrapped on the right day. I want to find something that is the right thing for that person, the gift that they will really enjoy and appreciate and that doesn’t always manage to occur around the appropriate gift giving events. Although – that being said – I would happily accept suggestions from anyone with a brilliant idea (no, Dad, Joan Blaeu maps do not qualify as a useful suggestion).


Butternut Squash Chili
Apple Cornbread
Baby Spinach Salad w/ Strawberries & Candied Pumpkin Seeds


Butternut Squash Chili
As I mentioned last week, it was cold when I was doing my menu planning for this week. I promise to be more seasonal next week.

Recipe previously given: Same Bat Place

Apple Cornbread
This is the same recipe as the Pumpkin Cornbread I’ve made before just substituting an equal amount of unsweetened apple sauce for the pureed pumpkin. This is a particularly useful substitution if you’re making only half the recipe because (in the US at least) apple sauce tends to be readily available in 4oz containers, which means you don’t have to freeze/find something else to do with the rest of a 15 oz container of puree.

Recipe previously given: The Little Snowpocalypse That Couldn’t

Baby Spinach Salad w/ Strawberries & Candied Pumpkin Seeds

(Spicy Ranch) Buttermilk Dressing recipe previously given: Cajun Chicken Salad

Candied Pumpkin Seeds recipe previously given: No Parade for Me


One comment

  1. I had a very similar issue while shopping for a Father’s Day card:
    – My father does drink beer, but I’ve never seen him drink more than two in a row, and he very much frowns upon glorification of alcohol.
    – He’s quite adept at grilling, but he’s equally adept most other cooking methods too, and I don’t get the impression that particularly prefers one method over another.
    But the real problem for me with card shopping was that:
    – He’s very active and outdoorsy, but he doesn’t play golf, he doesn’t fish, and he doesn’t watch professional sports.
    – He has no idea how to fix a car.
    – There are few ways in which my dad is stereotypical: He enjoys sitting on the couch and watching TV, he’s a bit of a cheapskate, and he uses power tools. But apparently you can only buy Father’s Day cards that *mock* your dad for these traits, and that doesn’t seem like the best way to honor him.

    Fortunately, he also enjoys a good pun, which was the route I went in card selection, but even that was hard to find one that wasn’t about unpleasant bodily functions.

    Given how very different your father and my father are, it’s amazing that we both had this same problem. But I might argue with you about Mother’s Day being more flexible– I had similar trouble buying a card for my mom, as again I felt like all the cards mocked my mother, instead of honored her. (Really, if you the only way you can make a card funny is by mocking someone, then mock the card-giver, not the receiver!) Also, I frequently have trouble fitting my mother into the stereotypical mom mold:
    – She’s a good cook, but doesn’t enjoy it.
    – She likes getting stuff, but she’s not really a shopper in the way some women are
    – Like my Dad, she drinks but never to excess.
    – She actually likes camping and outdoorsy stuff, and is the only one her marriage who is good with technology.

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